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By Janelle Griffith
Authorities in New Jersey on Tuesday issued a warrant for the arrest of a Philadelphia man after he missed a court appearance connected to his alleged part in a GoFundMe scam that raked in more than $400,000.
Johnny Bobbitt Jr., 35, was to appear in Superior Court in Burlington County, New Jersey, on a hearing called because he had not reported to pretrial services as required, the prosecutor’s office said.
Bobbitt, who was homeless at the time of the scam in 2017, was supposed to update the court on his efforts to seek employment and a home.
The prosecutor’s office told NBC News it requested a warrant for his arrest.
“We hope that he recognizes that this matter is not going to go away,” said Joel Bewley, a spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. “We encourage him to come in and address these charges.”
Bobbitt was ordered last month by a Superior Court judge to submit to weekly monitoring and attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings upon his release from jail.
Bobbitt, and co-defendants Kate McClure, 28, and Mark D’Amico, 39, face charges of second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception as part of the alleged 2017 scam. If found guilty, they could serve up to five to 10 years in prison.
McClure and her boyfriend, D’Amico, launched the GoFundMe account to supposedly help Bobbitt after he purportedly gave McClure his last $20 when she was stranded along a freeway ramp in Philadelphia.
After the story went viral however, the three had public disagreements. Bobbitt filed suit, accusing the couple of withholding most of the GoFundMe money he was owed, which led authorities to investigate the case.
In November, prosecutors laid out how the three allegedly concocted the story. Prosecutors released more than 60,000 messages between McClure and D’Amico from their iPhones detailing their financial woes, and how they allegedly got Bobbitt in on the ruse. The couple is accused of spending the money on a BMW and luxury vacations to Florida and Las Vegas, among other things.
Last month, GoFundMe announced that it had given refunds to all donors who contributed to the campaign.
Janelle Griffith is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.