400k Missing From Homeless Man's GoFundMe, Lawyer Says
By RJ Johnson - @rickerthewriter
September 5, 2018
The lawyer for a homeless man who gained worldwide attention last year for spending his last $20 to a couple who had become stranded on the side of a busy New Jersey interstate says more than $400,000 raised by an online fundraising page for him is all gone.
Chris Fallon, Johnny Bobbitt's attorney, says he learned the cash was all gone during a phone call with lawyers for the couple who started the fundraising campaign.
Bobbitt sued Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico, accusing them of mismanaging donations raised for him through a GoFundMe they set up for him last year.
It all started last November when Bobbitt met McClure and D'Amico after they ran out of gas on I-95. Bobbitt walked several blocks, and used his last $20 to help fill their tank back up. McClure tweeted about Bobbitt's kindness and it quickly went viral. She and D'Amico set up an online fundraising page with the stated goal of helping the homeless veteran get into a home. The campaign quickly raised more than $400,000 from more than 14,000 people.
However, over the summer, Bobbit says he grew concerned about how McClure and D'Amico were managing their donations, after they refused to provide him with a full accounting of the funds. He began questioning the couple's motives, fearing they squandered the money by taking lavish vacations and McClure purchasing a new BMW.
The New Jersey couple says they did nothing wrong, and were wary of giving Bobbitt the large sum of money because they feared he would buy drugs with it.
"Giving him all that money, it's never going to happen. I'll burn it in front of him," he said, adding that he felt giving an "addict" money would be like "giving him a loaded gun."
Last week, a judge in New Jersey ordered the couple to turn over the missing funds to their defense lawyer who was directed to put it all in an escrow account while the case is adjudicated. The judge also ordered McClure and D'Amico to provide a full accounting of the money and how it has been managed since last year.
The couple denies misusing the money and claims Bobbitt spent $25,000 in less than two weeks last year on drugs, in addition to paying overdue legal bills and sending money to his family.
"What [Bobbitt] would like is to obtain the money that has been raised for him," Bobbitt's attorney Jacqueline Promislo told NBC News. "Over 14,000 people gave him money to help him get off the streets and give him a safe place to live."
The couple initially started the GoFundMe campaign with the stated goal of buying him a house, but as the relationship soured, the promise turned into a camper that was parked on land McClure's family owns in Florence. However, in July, D'Amico told Bobbitt in June to leave the property, and he became homeless again.
D'Amico admitted to using $500 from the GoFundMe money while gambling at a casino, but said he repaid the money using his winnings.
GoFundMe says they deposited $20,000 into an account for Bobbitt and are currently investigating how the couple managed the money, saying they are working with authorities to ensure that Bobbitt "receives the help he deserves and that the donors' intentions are honored."