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Couple who crowdfunded $400K for homeless man ordered to pay up [updated]
A judge has ordered a New Jersey couple to transfer what remains of the $400,000 they raised for a homeless man after he said they kept almost all the money for themselves.
The three people involved in the lawsuit came into each others’ lives when Kate McClure, 28, ran out of gas on the interstate in October 2017. Johnny Bobbitt, a 35-year-old homeless man, gave her his last $20 to help her buy gas. To thank him, McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, set up a GoFundMe for Bobbitt, with the goal of raising $10,000 to help him get a place to stay so he could get his life back on track.
That fundraiser went viral, eventually raising over $400,000. With that money, they were able to buy Bobbitt a camper that he lived in outside of the couples’ home. Updates posted to the GoFundMe page and Instagram show the couple with Bobbitt in New York City four months ago, as well as Bobbitt sharing his journey to sobriety.
But the relationship between Bobbitt and the couple has since soured. D’Amico and McClure said it’s because of Bobbitt’s addiction; Bobbitt said it’s because they were withholding money and information from him.
Bobbitt sued McClure and D’Amico for the money they raised for him and said that they used the money for themselves rather than to help him. According to the BBC, Bobbitt’s lawyers alleged the couple only spent $75,000 helping him, while the couples’ lawyer said there’s only $150,000 left. This begs the question: Where did the rest of the money go?
The couples’ lawyer denied that they spent the money on themselves and said accounting will show the truth. Even if they spent all the money on Bobbitt, it still may not be so straightforward; Bobbitt alleges that they kicked him off their property in June and sold both the camper and the SUV that they bought for him, leaving him homeless once again.
The judge said that McClure and D’Amico must account for every dollar they crowdfunded.
Update 2:25pm CT, Sept. 4: All of the money raised in Bobbitt’s name is gone, according to his lawyer Chris Fallon.
The money was supposed to be turned in by Friday, but Fallon says the couple’s attorney told him in a call this morning that there wasn’t any more cash. A New Jersey Superior Court hearing is still set for tomorrow.
Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently working out of St. Paul, Minnesota. They have bylines at The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, and Bullet Points. Follow them on Twitter @thedialogtree