Thursday 22 November 2018

'Shocked' - €345k raised for homeless man by US couple is gone, lawyer claims

Johnny Bobbitt Jr., left, Kate McClure, right, and Mark D'Amico pose at a Citgo station in Philadelphia
(Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
Johnny Bobbitt Jr., left, Kate McClure, right, and Mark D'Amico pose at a Citgo station in Philadelphia (Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Kimberley Richards

The lawyer for Johnny Bobbitt, a homeless man whose generosity to a woman in Philadelphia sparked an online fundraising campaign amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, claims that money is gone.

Chris Fallon has claimed he learned the cash raised for his client Mr Bobbitt had been depleted, during a call with lawyers for couple Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico.

“Shocked. Shocked,” Mr Fallon said. “They raised this money to help Johnny Bobbitt get money for food.”

The couple's attorney, Ernest Badway, told The Independent that they had no comment at this time.

Bobbitt worries D'Amico and McClure have mismanaged a large part of the donations raised for him on GoFundMe
(David Swanson /The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
Bobbitt worries D'Amico and McClure have mismanaged a large part of the donations raised for him on GoFundMe (David Swanson /The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Last autumn, Ms McClure had set up a GoFundMe page for Mr Bobbitt after he helped her when she ran out of fuel on a highway exit ramp one night.

Mr Bobbitt walked to a gas station and used his last $20 (€17) to buy Ms McClure petrol since she did not have cash on her at the time.

After Ms McClure and her boyfriend Mark D’Amico shared the story of Mr Bobbitt’s generosity on a GoFundMe page, more than 14,000 people donated to help Mr Bobbitt, who had previously served in the Marine Corps. More than $400,000 (€345,000) had been raised for him.

But the couple’s relationship with Mr Bobbitt had soured as Mr Bobbitt later sued Ms McClure and Mr D’Amico, alleging they were of mismanaging and withholding the donations raised for him. The couple has repeatedly denied misusing any of the money.

GoFundMe​ released the following statement: "We are working with law enforcement officials to ensure Johnny receives all of the funds raised on his behalf.

"While we assist law enforcement with their ongoing investigation, GoFundMe is also working with Johnny's legal team to ensure he's receiving support while the remaining funds are being recovered. GoFundMe has given $20,000 (€18,000) to a bank account created by Johnny's legal team  to provide assistance during the investigation."

The fundraising platform also stated that in the "rare case" funds are misused, "donors and beneficiaries are protected" by GoFundMe.

In the GoFundMe Post for Mr Bobbitt, Ms McClure had guaranteed donors that the money raised would go towards buying Mr Bobbitt a home and his “dream truck”, a 1999 Ford Ranger.

The post also noted that the couple planned to set up two trusts in Mr Bobbitt’s name – one giving him the ability to collect a “small salary” every year and the other a retirement trust.

But Mr Fallon alleged the couple has not delivered on those promises. The couple had purchased Mr Bobbitt a camper, which was parked on land Ms McClure’s family owns in Florence, New Jersey.

Mr Bobbitt’s story gained widespread attention again when news spread he became homeless again after the couple allegedly told him he had to leave the property in June.

Mr Fallon has claimed that his client had only received $75,000 (€65,000) of the money raised, which included the purchase of the camper and a truck, which he said was purchased in the couple’s name.

Mr Bobbitt told ABC that he had to ask the couple “for everything” when he wanted access to the funds raised for him.

During an appearance on NBC’s show Megyn Kelly Today last week, Ms McClure and Mr D’Amico claimed they did not give Mr Bobbitt large sums of money in fear he would buy drugs.

They alleged that Mr Bobbitt mostly spent $25,000 (€22,000) on drugs in a span of 13 days.

“Every dollar he ever touched was used for drugs,” Mr D’Amico charged to NBC.

Mr Bobbitt’s other attorney Jacqueline Promislo told CNN those claims were “absolutely incorrect”.

Mr Bobbitt has also accused the couple of spending the donations on various trips and other purchases for their personal use. Mr D’Amico has publicly admitted to using $500 (€430) of the money in a casino but said it was with Mr Bobbitt’s consent and that he has since repaid him.

The couple claimed they had not spent any of the donation money on themselves; they also told NBC they estimated Mr Bobbitt had “well over” $150,000 (€129,000) left.

Mr D’Amico charged that Mr Bobbitt had spent “a lot of money” on legal fees, court costs, the camper and by sending money to his family.

A New Jersey judge in the case had ordered the couple transfer the money into an escrow account and hire an accountant to review financial records within 10 days, the Associated Press reported.

Independent News Service

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