Johnny Bobbitt to return to New Jersey to face charges in GoFundMe scam

PHILADELPHIA — Johnny Bobbitt settled outstanding drug charges in Philadelphia Monday, clearing the last hurdle on his road to New Jersey to face the consequences on charges of defrauding more than 14,000 donors who contributed over $400,000 to his fabricated GoFundMe campaign.

Bobbitt, 35, who appeared before Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Wendy L. Pew wearing a T-shirt featuring the phrase “Explore the Outdoors,” was found in violation of his probation on three misdemeanor drug possession convictions from July 2017. If not for those cases, he would have been sent to New Jersey last week, when he waived his right to an extradition hearing.

Pew re-sentenced Bobbitt to one year’s probation, combining his punishment in the three cases into one yearlong sentence. While on probation, he must prove that he is staying off drugs.

The formerly homeless Bobbitt, who said he now rents an apartment blocks away from Frankford Avenue’s trendy bar-and-restaurant corridor in Fishtown, has been held at the Detention Center on State Road since his Nov. 14 arrest on charges of fraud, theft by deception and conspiracy. He was expected to be transferred to Burlington County as early as Monday afternoon.

The other two defendants in the fraud case, Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico, are free on bail while awaiting trial. Their next court appearance is Dec. 24 in Superior Court in Burlington County.

McClure, D’Amico and Bobbitt are accused of fabricating a narrative that the then-homeless Bobbitt spent his last $20 to help McClure after she ran out of gas on I-95 in Philadelphia. McClure and D’Amico, in turn, set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to get Bobbitt off the streets. The fundraising effort, which had an initial goal of $10,000, was wildly successful, attracting thousands of donations from across the country and beyond. And the Good Samaritan story went viral, as Bobbitt and the couple appeared on national television.

But in the end, prosecutors say, it was all a scam. The three concocted the story to prey on the sympathy of donors, authorities said. McClure and D’Amico spent much of the money on vacations, gambling excursions and luxury handbags, authorities said. Bobbitt, too, spent tens of thousands, prosecutors say, some of it on drugs.

All donations to the GoFundMe campaign, created in November 2017, have since been refunded, a GoFundMe spokesman said.

— The Philadelphia Inquirer

Funeral at Brooklyn mosque erupts into bloody melee after mourner hit by truck

NEW YORK — A funeral at a Brooklyn mosque erupted into a bloody melee after a FedEx worker hit a mourner with his truck Monday, police said.

The mayhem began about 12:40 p.m. when a FedEx truck at Sixth Avenue and 63rd Street in Sunset Park backed up into a 46-year-old man who had been at a funeral at the Beit El-Maqdis Islamic Center of Bay Ridge.

The man suffered minor injuries, but the incident sparked angry words between other mourners and two FedEx employees.

Naim Jawad, a mosque board member, said it appeared the driver had “road rage,” apparently because the 70 to 100 people exiting the mosque prevented him from driving off the block.

“The gentleman lay on the floor because he couldn’t move until the ambulance came,” Jawad said. “I don’t think they knew they hit the guy or not until our guys stopped them.”

The sight of the mourner on the ground, Jawad said, angered witnesses.

“They tried to hold the FedEx truck so it doesn’t go anywhere,” he said. “Somehow, words were exchanged and then physical contact.

“They started swinging and punching each other.”

In the ensuing melee, the truck’s side windows were smashed, Jawad said.

The driver, Andrew Blunt, 25, slashed a 46-year-old man on the hand with a box cutter — and Blunt’s co-worker, Omar Lindsay, also 25, slammed a 52-year-old man in the head with a fire extinguisher.

One of the FedEx workers was assaulted in the fracas by Abdel Hamid Quadus, the 23-year-old nephew of the man being mourned.

He and the FedEx workers were busted.

A third FedEx worker ran off, Jawad said.

Quadus was charged with misdemeanor assault and the FedEx workers were charged with felony assault.

FedEx in a statement called the incident “disturbing” and said it is “cooperating with investigating authorities to determine the facts.”

— New York Daily News

Journalist reportedly shot dead in Mexico

MEXICO CITY — The body of a journalist has been found in western Mexico, making him the 11th member of the profession to be killed in the country this year, local media reported Monday.

Alejandro Marquez, director of the daily Orion Informativo, was having a meal with his family when he received a phone call and went out in the city of Tepic on Friday.

One day later, his body — riddled with bullet holes — was found on a road.

Marquez had been active in the leftist Morena party of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was sworn in on Saturday and who has vowed to take measures against the country’s soaring crime rate.

The human rights group Article 19 called on the authorities to investigate Marquez’s murder and to protect his colleagues.

Mexico is one of the world’s most dangerous countries to work as a journalist. A wave of violence linked to drug cartels claimed more than 29,000 lives in Mexico last year.

— dpa