N.J. Couple Ordered to Hand Over GoFundMe Money to Homeless Vet After He Accused Them of Fraud
A judge has ordered Katelyn McClure, 28, and her 39-year-old boyfriend Mark D'Amico to return the rest of the money after Johnny Bobbitt sued the pair for fraud
Last year, Johnny Bobbitt’s whole world changed after a simple good deed led to a massive fundraiser, with thousands of people donating more than $400,000 to rescue the man from homelessness in Philadelphia.
Less than a year later, the veteran is back on the streets after, he alleges, the couple who launched the fundraiser have refused to turn over to him the full balance raised on his behalf, according to reports. Now, a judge has ordered Katelyn McClure, 28, and her 39-year-old boyfriend Mark D’Amico to return the rest of the money after Bobbitt sued the pair for fraud.
“The money was raised for Johnny Bobbitt and Johnny Bobbitt has not a dollar in his pocket and he’s homeless,” Bobbitt’s attorney, Jacqueline Promislo, tells PEOPLE.
Bobbitt, originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, first met McClure last October, when her car ran out of gas on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia. Bobbitt famously spent his last $20 to buy gas for McClure. Moved by his kindness, she and D’Amico, set up a GoFundMe page to help Bobbitt get back on his feet. More than 14,000 donated a total of $402,706 to the man.
“I think it might have been good intentions in the beginning, but with that amount of money, I think it became greed,” Bobbitt, 35, claimed to the Philadelphia Inquirer just days before he and his legal team filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in New Jersey’s Superior Court in Mount Holly.
On Thursday, Burlington County Judge Paula Dow ordered the couple to hand over the remainder of the money to Bobbitt’s attorneys’ law firm by Friday, and has granted a restraining order to prohibit McClure and D’Amico from spending any of the money, Promislo confirms to PEOPLE.
In the complaint obtained by PEOPLE, Bobbitt accused the couple of fraud and conspiracy, alleging that the couple spent most of the funds on vacations to Las Vegas, Florida, and California, along with a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and a new BMW for McClure, of Bordentown, New Jersey.
“I wish it didn’t come to this. I hate that it came to this,” Bobbitt told WPVI after Thursday’s hearing. “I always felt like I was in a weird situation. I didn’t want to be pressuring to get a lawyer or do anything because I didn’t want to seem ungrateful.”
An attorney for McClure and D’Amico declined to comment.
The couple wrote on the GoFundMe page last year that the $402,706 would be put into a pair of trusts in Bobbitt’s name and he would have both a lawyer and financial planner. They added that Bobbitt would own his own home and finally have his dream car, a 1999 Ford Ranger. However, Bobbitt told the Inquirer that he lived in a camper up until June and the SUV the couple bought for him broke down.
The couple told the Inquirer that they had spent or given Bobbitt more than half the money — through food, clothing, a hotel stay, the camper, SUV and more — but were withholding the almost $200,000 balance.
The couple’s attorney, Ernest Badway, said in court that McClure and D’Amico set up meetings with financial advisers and attorneys for Bobbitt but he “never showed up,” according to ABC News. They allegedly put the camper and vehicle in their names under Bobbitt’s request, Badway explained in court, adding that the couple even drove the man back and forth to rehab centers.
Judge Dow acknowledged that it has not been proven that the couple misused Bobbitt’s money, but determined that it would cause him “immediate” or “irreparable harm” if he does not have access to the money.
“The balance of relative hardships clearly and convincingly favors plaintiff at this time,” Dow said, according to ABC. “The harm to the defendants here is relatively minor.”
The couple previously disputed Bobbitt’s claims, telling the Inquirer that their relationship with the man began to sour when he allegedly spent the $25,000 they gave him in less than two weeks. They claimed Bobbitt stole from them and alleged he sold some of their possessions to buy drugs. Bobbitt, who has since failed two rehab attempts, denied the allegations.
Bobbitt admitted to quickly spending the $25,000 but said he gave money to family and friends and spent only some of it on drugs.
D’Amico, who admitted to spending $500 but said he quickly replaced the funds, told the Inquirer that giving the money to a recovering drug addict would be like “giving him a loaded gun.”
“Giving him all that money, it’s never going to happen. I’ll burn it in front of him,” he told the publication ahead of Thursday’s decision.
McClure and D’Amico spoke about the incident this week on Megyn Kelly TODAY, claiming that they went above and beyond to track down the man’s birth certificate and get him identification. D’Amico said Bobbitt told them he didn’t want a house, but dreamed of living off the land in a travel trailer in Alaska.
“He was our family. He is our family. I still think, to this day, that he is our family,” McClure told Kelly. McClure spoke through tears as she claimed the couple’s been receiving death threats.
“It’s so hard to deal with because these people are getting one side of the story,” she said. “Receiving death threats, and threats to burn my house down and threats against my family and everything like that is so hard to deal with when we know that we did a good thing. I still believe that we did a good thing and I would do it all over again. I would do it all over again for him.”