Judge orders remaining funds raised by couple for homeless man to be frozen

What started as an act of kindness ended in a court dispute.

David Madden
August 30, 2018 - 5:28 pm
Last October, Johnny Bobbitt used his last $20 to buy gas for Kate McClure, who was stranded on I-95. McClure, in return, created a GoFundMe campaign with her boyfriend, Mark D'Amico, to raise money for Bobbitt to thank him.

Courtesy GoFundMe via CNN

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MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — A Burlington County couple have been ordered to surrender what money is left from a GoFundMe campaign they conducted for a homeless man, until a judge can decide what is to come of it all. 

Johnny Bobbitt spent his last $20 on gas for Kate McClure when she was stuck on I-95 in Kensington last year. In return, McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D'Amico, started a GoFundMe to get Bobbitt off the streets. The campaign went viral and brought in $400,000.

But the charitable act went terribly wrong when Bobbitt claimed the couple mismanaged the money and used some of it for themselves. The couple said they gave Bobbitt $200,000, but he claimed they only gave him $75,000 and a camper to live in, and he had since returned to living on the streets.

McClure and D'Amico said they didn't want to give Bobbitt the money all at once, claiming he spent $25,000 on drugs last December. Bobbitt claims that didn't happen. 

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The three did not appear in New Jersey Superior Court Thursday for this hearing, where Bobbitt's pro bono legal team convinced Judge Paula Dow to freeze — for now — what's left of the money the couple raised. Dow issued a temporary restraining order that mandates the couple to turn over the money to Bobbitt's attorneys, who will open a trust fund that will be frozen as the case plays out.

Part of the problem, as Dow sees it, is that the couple mixed the contributions of more than 14,000 people with their own money.

"The equities in this case cry out that they be moved from where they presently are, given the public concern and the concerns and allegations that they were co-mingled," she said.
    
Dow ordered an audit before the next hearing in two weeks. 

Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico's lawyer, Ernest Badway, says his clients are not the bad guys in this case.
Elizabeth Robertson/Pool

The couple's lawyer said they used the funds for Bobbitt's drug treatment, a car and a trailer. 

"The idea that my clients are the bad guys, that they did everything, that they've expended funds for something other than Mr. Bobbitt, is completely not true," said the couple's lawyer, Ernest Badway.

Bobbitt's lawyers maintain that he is back living on the streets and getting help for drugs again. His lawyers also say the couple spent at least some of the money on themselves.

"Mr. Bobbitt had more money in a month or two than most people save in a lifetime. But he doesn't have any access and he doesn't have the benefit of it," added Bobbitt's attorney, Chris Fallon.

Badway also claimed that some of the 14,000 people who donated to the campaign have asked for a refund, a claim Fallon later denied.