Police Search Couple's Home After Lawyers Allege $400,000 Raised for Homeless Man Is Gone
Police have searched the home of a New Jersey couple accused of spending the thousands of dollars they raised for a homeless man on lavish vacations and a new BMW, PEOPLE confirms.
The Florence Police Department executed a search warrant at Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico’s home early Thursday morning, just days after lawyers alleged in court that the $400,000 they raised to rescue Johnny Bobbitt from homelessness is now gone, a department spokesman confirms to PEOPLE.
What started as a simple good deed has now turned into a criminal investigation, according to a Thursday Twitter statement issued by Burlington County Prosecutor Scott A. Coffina. No criminal charges have been filed.
The search comes just two days after Bobbitt’s attorneys reported to the court that they believed all of the funds raised for the Philadelphia man are gone.
“It is safe to say that we were shocked and concerned when their lawyer told us Tuesday that there was no money left,” Bobbitt’s attorney, Jacqueline Promislo, tells PEOPLE. “We are now doing some discovery on an emergency basis to try to figure out where the money went but at this time we have no further information.”
On Wednesday, Judge Paula Dow of Burlington County Superior Court ordered MCClure, 28, and 39-year-old D’Amico to appear before her in court before Sept. 14 to explain what happened to the money. The couple’s attorney, Ernest Badway, tried to assert the couple’s Fifth Amendment rights, but Dow said she would rather McClure and D’Amico do that for themselves in her presence, according to ABC News.
“I am no longer comfortable with counsel representing what their clients purport to say when I have no certifications from the clients, no appearances by the clients and a record before me [that] lacks clarity at times as to what happened with the funds,” Dow said, according to ABC.
Badway declined to comment to PEOPLE on the matter.
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.
Last week, Dow ordered the couple to hand over the remainder of the money to Bobbitt’s attorneys’ law firm. But Promislo tells PEOPLE that the pair “did not transfer any money to the escrow account.”
In a complaint filed by his attorney and 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.
McClure and D’Amico have denied the allegations and spoke about the incident last week on Megyn Kelly Today, claiming that they went above and beyond to track down the man’s birth certificate and get him identification.
“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.”
GoFundMe officials are working with authorities in the matter, and have set up an account with $20,000 with Bobbitt’s lawyers, according to Good Morning America. According to GMA, officials with the fundraising site have also said Bobbitt will receive the donations as a result of their GoFundMe Guarantee program, a policy that ensures recipients receive their money, or those who have donated receive refunds in the event of “campaign misuse.”