MOUNT HOLLY, NJ — A New Jersey woman who pleaded guilty to helping her boyfriend spread a nice story about a homeless veteran who collected more than $400,000 in online donations has been sentenced to three years in prison on state theft charges. .

Burlington County prosecutors say 32-year-old Katelyn McClure was not present in the Mount Holly courtroom Friday because she is serving a one-year federal sentence in the case. Her state prison sentence will run concurrently and the former transportation department worker will not be allowed to return to work as a New Jersey public employee.

Prosecutors said McClure and her then-boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, came up with the good Samaritan story in November 2017, alleging that homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt Jr. had given McClure his last $20 when his car ran out of gas on an interstate highway. exit ramp in philadelphia.

The three conducted newspaper and television interviews and solicited donations, ostensibly to help Bobbitt, through a GoFundMe campaign they called «Paying It Forward,» prosecutors said. Prosecutors said the campaign raised more than $400,000 from about 14,000 donors in about a month and was the largest fraud perpetrated through the crowdfunding platform at the time.

Authorities began investigating after Bobbitt sued the couple, accusing them of not giving him the money. They eventually determined that all the money was spent in March 2018, with McClure and D’Amico spending large chunks on an RV, a BMW, and trips to casinos in Las Vegas and New Jersey.

D’Amico, 43, pleaded guilty in December 2019 and was sentenced to five years in state prison, a term that also coincides with a previous federal term. Both he and McClure were ordered to fully reimburse GoFundMe. Bobbitt was sentenced to federal and state probation.