CAMDEN, N.J. – A Burlington County, New Jersey, woman was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison for her role in a GoFundMe scam that gained nationwide attention, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Katelyn McClure, 32, of Bordentown, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle to an information charging her with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
In November 2017, McClure and Mark D’Amico, 43, allegedly created a crowd-source funding page on GoFundMe’s website titled “Paying It Forward.” The campaign solicited donations from the public purportedly for the benefit of a homeless veteran, Johnny Bobbitt, 39, of Philadelphia. McClure and D’Amico posted a story that McClure was driving home from Philadelphia on Interstate 95 and ran out of gas. Bobbitt acted as a “good Samaritan” and rescued McClure by using his last $20 to buy gasoline for her. The website stated that funds were being solicited to get Bobbitt off the streets and provide him with living expenses, setting a goal of $10,000.
In reality, McClure never ran out of gas and Bobbitt never spent his last $20 for her. D’Amico and McClure allegedly conspired to create the false story to obtain money from donors. The story was quickly picked up by local and national media outlets and went viral and raised approximately $400,000 from more than 14,000 donors in less than three weeks.
The donated funds were transferred by D’Amico and McClure from GoFundMe into accounts that they controlled. The majority of the money allegedly was quickly spent by D’Amico and McClure on personal expenses over the next three months.
In mid-November of 2017, when the donations had reached approximately $1,500, D’Amico and McClure told Bobbitt about the campaign and the false gas story. In December of 2017, after setting up a bank account for Bobbitt, D’Amico and McClure deposited $25,000 of proceeds of the scheme into Bobbitt’s account.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Hillman sentenced McClure to three years of supervised release and ordered her to pay $400,000 in restitution. D’Amico previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced in April 2022 to 27 months in prison; Bobbitt pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited assistant prosecutors and detectives of the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Lachia L. Bradshaw; officers of the Florence Township Police Department; special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tammy Tomlins; and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Bender of the Criminal Division in Camden.
Defense counsel: James J. Gerrow Jr. Esq., Hainesport, New Jersey
Officers will be subject to renew their licenses three years after issuance.
July 21, 2022
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed S2742/A4194 into law, establishing a police licensing program for all New Jersey law enforcement officers. The new law will require all law enforcement officers to hold a valid, active license issued by the Police Training Commission (PTC) in order to be employed as officers in the State of New Jersey. Governor Murphy first proposed the legislation in May 2022 and the bill quickly moved through both the Senate and Assembly. New Jersey will become the 47th state to establish a police licensing program.
“I thank my legislative partners for acting quickly on passing this bill and sending it to my desk to sign today. This police licensing program will, formally and finally, recognize all who serve in law enforcement in our state as the specially trained and highly skilled professional they are,” said Governor Murphy. “Officers holding these licenses will be proven professionals who fulfill their duties with honesty and integrity, helping law enforcement strengthen and rebuild the bonds of trust between police and residents in the communities they serve, especially in our Black and Brown communities.”
“This landmark legislation will have real and transformative impact on policing in New Jersey, and will serve to significantly improve trust between law enforcement and the public they are sworn to protect,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “One of the strongest commitments of the Murphy Administration has been to ensure the continued excellence and success of New Jersey’s law enforcement officers, while promoting a culture statewide of professionalism, transparency, and accountability.”
“The licensing of law enforcement officers throughout New Jersey provides an additional layer of professionalism and accountability to the men and women who take an oath to serve and protect the citizens of this great state,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “I applaud the efforts of Governor Murphy and Acting Attorney General Platkin who have worked tirelessly with the members of the Police Training Commission to enact a statewide licensing program that strengthens transparency and public trust.”
“NJDOC correctional police are highly trained and dedicated professionals with the significant responsibility of protecting the public and ensuring safe and secure facilities” said NJDOC Commissioner Victoria L. Kuhn. “The statewide licensure of law enforcement will continue to build trust and improve accountability for officers that serve in the NJDOC, and each and every community across the state.”
The PTC, which establishes statewide law enforcement standards, voted unanimously in June 2020 to create a statewide police licensing program, recognizing that over 40 states across the country use a form of decertification or licensing for law enforcement officers. In an effort to help build public trust in law enforcement, the police licensing program will require all law enforcement officers to meet certain uniform professional standards to become, or continue to be, an active law enforcement officer in the state.
To better protect the health, safety, and welfare of all citizens, the legislation would grant the PTC the ability and responsibility to monitor and take appropriate actions against the licenses of any law enforcement officer who acts outside the bounds of professional standards or engages in illegal or improper conduct. Some of the conduct resulting in the revocation or non-issuance of a license include:
Conviction of any crime in NJ, or any other state, territory, country, or of the U.S.;
Conviction of an act of domestic violence;
Conviction of any offense that would preclude an officer from carrying a firearm;
Two or more motor vehicle offenses for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or two of more motor vehicle offenses for reckless driving;
Being an active member of a group that advocates for the violent overthrow of the government or for discrimination based on classes protected by the Law Against Discrimination (LAD); and
Conduct or behavior in the officer’s personal or professional life such as making statements, posting, sharing, or commenting in support of any posting, on social media, or otherwise, that demonstrates, espouses, advocates or supports discrimination or violence against, or hatred or bias toward individuals or groups based on race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other protected characteristic under the “Law Against Discrimination.”
Officers will be subject to renew their licenses three years after issuance.
“We have taken major steps over recent years – requiring the use of body-worn cameras, enhancing training, and increasing the diversity of our law enforcement agencies – to fortify the relationships between our communities and the law enforcement agencies that serve them. Police licensure is a commonsense next step,” said Senator Greenstein. “Our communities will be better served – and our law enforcement agencies will be better equipped – with a framework for licensure in place. I’d like to thank my colleagues for supporting this legislation and Governor Murphy for signing it into law.”
“The creation and implementation of a statewide licensure program for law enforcement officers is essential, as it will set requirements and minimum standards for all police at all levels,” said Senator Troy Singleton. “I truly believe that uniform professional standards will help build public trust and ensure that proper policing is occurring across New Jersey.”
“Professional licensure will greatly help ensure law enforcement officers uphold the public trust by maintaining high standards of training and proficiency,” said Assemblywoman Reynolds-Jackson. “Many professions require licensure and are held accountable if they are in violation. The job of law enforcement is as critically important to our communities as the work of doctors and lawyers. This law will raise the level of professionalism that is required to serve our communities in any situation.”
“We should always work to enhance transparency and build better relationships between the police and the residents they protect,” said Assemblyman Bill Spearman. “Through this law, we will be able to hold bad actors accountable for their wrongdoings and ensure that the proper disciplinary actions are pursued.”
“The Police Training Commission will have the ability to better monitor officers and take the appropriate action against those who engage in improper conduct under established licensure standards,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly. “This law is a step toward rebuilding trust in our communities.”
“The State Troopers Fraternal Association has continually been willing to partner with the Governor and members of the legislature in producing common sense police reform legislation. This historic legislation creating a police licensing program here in New Jersey is no exception. This is yet another piece of legislation that we have all worked on together to enhance transparency and promote public trust and confidence in our troopers and all law-enforcement. This bill enhances the concepts of producing a more professional and better trained police officer while incapacitating bad actors for which we have no tolerance,” said Wayne Blanchard, President, State Troopers Fraternal Association.
“The New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police which represents over 14,000 of New Jersey’s Finest supports Governor Murphy’s initiatives to further enhance professionalism within the Law Enforcement community in the State of New Jersey,” said Robert Gries, Executive Vice President, NJFOP. “We look forward to supporting and working with the Governor’s Office on this and all matters that affect and improve the ability of Law Enforcement to perform their important work.”
“The ACLU-NJ and our advocacy partners have been calling for police licensing for years, and we’re proud that we’re finally able to see it come to fruition,” said ACLU-NJ President Amol Sinha. “The bill Governor Murphy signed is strong: both the bill’s sponsors and the administration took a promising draft and improved it by mandating reporting to the National Decertification Index. We intend to continue working with the Attorney General and stakeholders to ensure that this new licensing scheme provides necessary accountability and transparency for all New Jerseyans as well as ensures due process and fairness mechanisms for members of law enforcement. But there is much more that remains to be done. New Jersey belatedly joins the more than 40 other states in having a licensing scheme for police officers. We must now do the hard work of delivering meaningful measures of accountability such as police discipline transparency, civilian complaint review boards with subpoena power, and ending qualified immunity. We cannot – and should not – aspire to merely catch up with states like Alabama and Florida – instead we must lead on issues of police accountability to create a fairer and more just New Jersey for all.”
“We applaud Governor Murphy and Attorney General Platkin for their leadership in establishing a police licensure program in New Jersey,” said Reverend Charles Boyer, Pastor, Greater Mount Zion Bethel AME Church and Executive Director, Salvation & Social Justice, United Black Agenda. “Black residents in New Jersey are three times as likely to have force used against them than their white counterparts, and excessive force claims continue to cost New Jersey taxpayers millions each year. This bill is both critical and long overdue, yet we acknowledge that this legislation is not a panacea. We still have much work to do to ensure that this bill lives up to the state’s promise to heighten the standard of police conduct in the state and effectively holding officers who fail to meet that standard accountable. We at Salvation and Social Justice look forward to continuing to work with this Administration to increase transparency, equity, and justice in this state.”
“I know that most New Jersey residents will be proud to join forty-six (46) states in these United States to require Law Enforcement Officers to be licensed like the many professionals in their communities,” said Reva Foster President, NJ Black Issues Convention.
Professional licensing is used in various other contexts, and occupations such as teachers, doctors, electricians, and counselors, among others, are subject to licensing requirements that provide the public with appropriate assurance of professionalism, qualification, and accountability.
FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH) – A Freehold Township man was found guilty by a Monmouth County Jury in connection with the 2017 possession and distribution of child sexual abuse materials, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Thursday.
James Simmons, 74, of Freehold Township, was convicted on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Material and third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material.
A July 2017 investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, along with NJ ICAC Task Force and the Freehold Township Police Department revealed that Simmons was found to be in a possession of a USB thumb drive with over 100 videos depicting the sexual abuse of a child, along with peer-to-peer file sharing programs from electronic devices located at his residence on Harding Road in Freehold Township. The New Jersey Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory assisted in the analysis of the electronic devices recovered from the defendant’s residence.
“I am grateful for the collaborative investigative efforts of my office’s detectives, Assistant Prosecutor Dugan, the NJ ICAC Task Force, and the Freehold Township Police Department for their work on this case. It is imperative that we continue to do all that we can to protect our most vulnerable citizens, our children, from being victimized in this way,” said Acting Prosecutor Lori Linskey.
During the trial, Simmons testified that the materials and files found belonged to his son, who had died prior to Simmons’ arrest.
Simmons faces more than 10 years in a New Jersey State Prison. Simmons must also register for Megan’s Law, he will be under Parole Supervision for Life and will have Internet Restrictions when he is sentenced by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Jill O’Malley on January 13, 2023.
This case is being handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan. Simmons is being represented by George B. Somers Jr., Esq., of Princeton.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A Somerset County, New Jersey, man was sentenced to 46 months in prison for orchestrating a $2 million COVID-19 fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.
Guaravjit “Raj” Singh, 27, of Montgomery, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Peter G. Sheridan to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud. Judge Sheridan imposed the sentence on July 20, 2022, in Trenton federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From May 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singh engaged in a scheme to defraud and to enrich himself by fraudulently inducing 10 victims to send him over $2 million to obtain personal protective equipment (PPE) and then stealing the money and not providing the PPE to the victims as promised.
Singh induced victims to enter into an agreement pursuant to which Singh would be paid approximately $7.1 million for approximately 1.5 million medical gowns, which ultimately were to be sourced to the city of New York amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The victims wired Singh, though his company GJS Solutions LLC, $712,500, representing a 10 percent initial deposit for the medical gowns. After receiving these funds from the victims, Singh made additional misrepresentations and excuses to the victims, ensuring them that they would receive the medical gowns. Instead of purchasing and delivering medical gowns, Singh used the funds for personal expenses.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Sheridan sentenced Singh to three years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents and intelligence analysts of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to the sentencing.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren E. Repole, Chief of the General Crimes Unit in Newark.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A Burlington County, New Jersey, man was sentenced to 120 months in prison for conspiring to distribute large amounts of cocaine and crack cocaine throughout Burlington County, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.
Herbert Mays, 65, of Willingboro, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Zahid N. Quraishi to a superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 280 grams of crack cocaine. Judge Quraishi imposed the sentence on July 20, 2022, in Trenton federal court.
Eighteen other members of the drug trafficking conspiracy have pleaded guilty. The charges against two other defendants remain pending; the charges against them are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between July 2019 and September 2019, Mays, his codefendants and others engaged in a narcotics conspiracy that operated primarily in municipalities throughout Burlington County – including Willingboro, Burlington City, Burlington Township, Bordentown Township, and Edgewater Park – and which sought to profit from the distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine. Law enforcement officials learned that defendants obtained regular supplies of cocaine from co-conspirators in the Philadelphia area and elsewhere and then redistributed that cocaine, portions of which defendants converted into crack cocaine, for profit, to other conspirators, distributors, sub-dealers, and end users throughout Burlington County and elsewhere. Law enforcement officials intercepted numerous communications by and between the conspirators regarding such issues as cocaine and crack cocaine quality and availability, pricing, packaging, quantity, and customer satisfaction.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Quraishi sentenced Mays to five years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, Trenton Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark; special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Newark Field Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey L. Matthews; detectives of the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Burlington County Prosecutor Lachia L. Bradshaw; officers of the Burlington Township Police Department, under the direction of Director of Public Safety Bruce Painter; officers of the Willingboro Police Department, under the direction of Acting Director of Public Safety Ian Bucs; officers of the Burlington City Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police John Fine; officers of the Florence Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Brian Boldizar; officers of the Bordentown Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Brian Pesce; officers of the Edgewater Park Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Brett V. Evans; officers of the Ewing Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Albert Rhodes; officers of the Westampton Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Stephen Ent; officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Director Steve Wilson with the investigation leading to the sentencing.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Martha K. Nye of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton and Andrew B. Johns of the Criminal Division in Camden.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police Department reports that Task Force Units conduct high visibility Preventive Patrols focusing on the “quality-of-life” offenses as well as open-air street-level narcotics offenses. The Task Force Officers conducted a prostitution/john detail in the areas of South Broad Street and Malone Street, and South Clinton Avenue and Bayard Street.
Trenton Police Task Force Units made the following Arrests:
1.) Randal Hernandez, Trenton NJ
2.) Dominic Brown, Trenton NJ
3.) Julia Hernandez, Trenton NJ
4.) Jamie Pinder, Trenton NJ
5.) Amy Exner, Trenton NJ
6.) Renee Rosina, Trenton NJ
7.) Tracey Rhodes, Trenton NJ
The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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