American couple ordered to hand over remaining GoFundMe fund to homeless man

By @chelean on
Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt's photo posted on the GoFundMe account set up by McClure for Bobbit
Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt's photo posted on the GoFundMe account set up by McClure for Bobbit GoFundMe/hvv4r-paying-it-forward

The American couple who kept the hundreds of thousands of dollars GoFundMe donation to a homeless man has been ordered to give him the money. Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico have been prohibited by a judge to spend any more of the US$400,000 (AU$546,000) that people donated to Johnny Bobbitt on the crowdfunding platform.

On Thursday, McClure and D’Amico were ordered by Burlington County Judge Paula Dow to hand over the remainder of the money raised on GoFundMe to Bobbitt by Friday. She has also granted a restraining order to prohibit them from spending any more of the money.

Last year, Bobbitt became a viral sensation when McClure narrated online how the homeless man gave his last US$20 (AU$27.30) to her when she ran out of gas in a dicey neighbourhood in Philadelphia. The story touched a lot of people, who donated to the GoFundMe account McClure and her boyfriend, D’Amico, set up for him. The fund reached US$400,000 after more than 14,000 people donated.

They told donors that the fund would be put into trusts in Bobbitt’s name and he would have both a lawyer and a financial planner. He would apparently have his own home and a car.

Bobbitt’s life changed briefly but has since got back to the same order. Instead of a home, the couple bought him a camper, but he has since been kicked out from it and returned to living under a bridge and begging for loose change. The SUV that the couple bought also broke down. He alleged McClure and D’Amico refused to give him money while their own lifestyle changed for the better. McClure got a new BMW, and she and D’Amico have apparently been going on grand vacations.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, the couple claimed that they had spent half of the money on housing and other expenses for Bobbitt. However, they were holding off the rest until he’s off drugs because Bobbitt allegedly once spent US$25,000 (AU$34,130) on drugs in under two weeks.

“Giving him all that money, it’s never going to happen. I’ll burn it in front of him,” D’Amico told the paper.

Bobbitt accused the couple of fraud and conspiracy, saying they spent his funds on their vacations to Las Vegas, Florida and California, even going on a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon.

McClure and D’Amico, meanwhile, have explained that they had used about US$200,000 (AU$277,000) of the money on Bobbitt for his trailer, truck, everyday expenses and more. The properties were also placed in their names at Bobbitt’s request as he did not have an attorney or financial adviser at the time.

They tried to set up appointments with attorneys and financial advisers for Bobbitt but he “never showed up,” their attorney, Ernest Badway, argued in court (via ABC News). They even apparently took time out of their own schedules to bring Bobbitt back and forth to rehab on a daily basis.

Dow acknowledged that while it has not been proven that McClure and D’Amico had used the money for their own benefit, she ruled in favour of Bobbitt as he is a “homeless individual without access to certain basic needs.”

“The balance of relative hardships clearly and convincingly favours plaintiff at this time,” the judge said, adding that “the harm to the defendants here is relatively minor.”

The couple’s lawyer said they have plans to file counterclaims for thousands of dollars’ worth of items and cash that Bobbitt allegedly stole from them.

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