BURLINGTON COUNTY, NJ (RNN) - It was a heartwarming story - a homeless man spends his last dollar to help a stranded young woman, so they raise money to get him back on his feet.
Johnny Bobbitt Jr. captured worldwide attention, and $400,000 was raised. He, Kate McClure, the woman he "helped;" and her boyfriend Mike D'Amico appeared on national and international TV to tell their tale.
"The entire campaign was predicated on a lie," said Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina on Thursday. "Less than an hour after the GoFundMe campaign went live, McClure, in a text exchange with a friend, stated that the story about Bobbitt assisting her was 'completely made up.'"
She didn't run out of gas, and Bobbitt didn't spend the $20 he had to his name to help.
All three have been charged with theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception. McClure and D’Amico surrendered and were released Wednesday; Bobbitt was arrested in Philadelphia and awaits extradition to New Jersey.
The story was bolstered by Bobbitt’s personal story. He served in the military, had been engaged, and was training to be a paramedic when an opiate addiction brought his life spiraling downward.
Coffina confirmed the military service was true, saying he deserves credit for his military service but was “fully complicit” in the scam.
In August, the story began to go bad. It was reported that Bobbitt had become homeless again and didn't have access to the $400,000. He said the couple started using the money to buy themselves a BMW, vacations and other items.
They said they feared Bobbitt, back on drugs, would burn through the money. He sued the couple for the reminder of the money, but their attorney said in court that the money was gone.
GoFundMe had promised to repay Bobbitt, and the criminal investigation into the couple's actions began.
Copyright 2018 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.