GoFundMe Vows To Get Homeless Veteran His Stolen $400K Back
Redwood City, CA – GoFundMe has announced that it will help cover the donations that a New Jersey couple allegedly stole from a fundraising campaign they established to help a homeless veteran.
Kate McClure, 28, and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, 39, are accused of using much of the funds they raised on homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt’s behalf to buy luxury items and vacations for themselves.
“Johnny will be made whole and we're committing that he'll receive the balance of the unspent funds raised on his behalf," the company said in a statement, according to NBC News. "GoFundMe’s goal has always been to ensure Johnny gets support he deserves."
The company said it was standing by it’s “GoFundMe Guarantee,” which was enacted to safeguard intended beneficiaries in the rare occasion that their donations were misused.
"We're fulfilling that commitment today and we will continue to work with Johnny's team to make sure he's receiving all donated amounts," GoFundMe said.
“We reached an agreement today with GoFundMe and they have agreed to make sure he will be made whole,” Bobbitt’s attorney, Chris Fallon, confirmed in a statement to CNN.
As part of that guarantee, Bobbitt, 38, has been given $20,000 to provide him with food and an apartment, Fallon said.
The company has also been working with police, as the investigation into McClure and D’Amico continues.
Bobbitt first met McClure in November of 2017, when he used his last $20 to help her after she ran out of gas on a freeway ramp in a bad neighborhood in Philadelphia.
Bobbitt told McClure to lock her car doors, and then he hiked to a gas station himself and brought back gas to fill up her tank, according to the Independent.
Afterwards, McClure and D’Amico set up a GoFundMe campaign for the homeless man who had selflessly helped her.
She told everyone they were raising the money so that the Good Samaritan wouldn’t have to sleep under a bridge, and said he deserved a fresh start.
“I wish that I could do more for this selfless man, who went out of his way just to help me that day,” McClure wrote in the GoFundMe campaign she set up with D’Amico. “He is such a great guy, and talking to him each time I see him makes me want to help him more and more.”
The story pulled at heartstrings and got an immense amount of media coverage – McClure and D’Amico even appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America with Bobbitt – and the fundraising campaign with an initial goal of $10,000 skyrocketed to almost $402,706 donated by 14,347 people who wanted to help the homeless veteran.
But as time went on, the couple came under fire after Bobbitt alleged they refused to give him most of the money that had been raised on his behalf, NJ.com reported.
Initially, McClure said their plan was to get Bobbitt a house and his dream truck, a 1999 Ford Ranger, and Bobbitt said he planned to give some of the money to groups who helped him when he was struggling with homelessness, the Independent reported.
"He will never have to worry about a roof over his head again!!" the couple posted on GoFundMe.
The couple promised donors that they would hire an attorney and a financial planner to help Bobbitt manage the money and invest for his future, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
"The first thing on the list is a NEW Home which Johnny will own!!" McClure and D’Amico wrote on the GoFundMe page.
But that rosy picture quickly changed when the home McClure and D’Amico bought for Bobbitt was a camper, which they registered in their own names and parked on property belonging to D’Amico’s family.
They also bought him a television, a laptop, two cellphones, food, clothing, and a used SUV that quickly broke down, according to the Independent.
McClure and D’Amico claimed they put the camper and the SUV in McClure’s name so that Bobbitt couldn’t sell them, but the couple later sold both of the vehicles out from under Bobbitt, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Bobbitt admitted that he continued to struggle with drugs, but said that he never met the lawyer they were supposed to hire for him and only met with a financial planner once, although he didn’t sign any paperwork for the trusts the couple was allegedly setting up for him.
D’Amico has recently had his own legal problems in the form of traffic tickets, a suspended driver's license, and an arrest for failing to appear in municipal court, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
D’Amico, a carpenter, and McClure, a receptionist for the New Jersey Department of Transportation, have taken vacations to California, Florida, and Las Vegas since November, and even did a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon.
McClure purchased a new BMW and D’Amico admitted he had used some of the money gambling, although he claimed he paid it back, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
During an interview with the TODAY show on Aug. 27, McClure and D’Amico denied having stolen money from Bobbitt, and said they placed his money into their own accounts to prevent him from feeding his drug habit.
"It's so hard to deal with when we know we did a good thing," McClure said through tears during the interview. "I would do it all over again. I would do it all over again for him."
On Aug. 28, Bobbitt filed a lawsuit against the couple, claiming that McClure and D’Amico committed fraud, conspiracy, and mismanaged the campaign funds, according to NJ.com.
Burlington County Superior Court Judge Paula Dow granted a temporary restraining order two days later, and ordered McClure and D’Amico to hand the money over to Fallon within 24 hours.
Dow also ordered the couple to provide accounting records of the fund within 10 days.
"The idea that no good deed goes unpunished has been demonstrated in this case," the couple’s attorney, Ernest Badway told NJ.com at the time. "The idea that my clients are the bad guys is completely not true."
But during a conference call on Tuesday morning, Badway told Fallon that the money was gone, Fallon said.
“There’s no money left,” Fallon confirmed. “Where the money went, I have no idea.”
He said Bobbitt was “completely devastated” when he heard the news.
On Wednesday, the court ordered that the couple appear next week to give depositions regarding what they had done with the funds, NBC News reported.
The following day, police executed a search warrant at McClure and D’Amico’s Florence Township home as part of a criminal investigation, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina confirmed, according to NBC News.
The details as to what evidence police were looking for in the search was unclear, but their recently-purchased BMW was towed away from the scene, ABC reporter Katherine Scott said in a tweet.
“As of this time, there have been no charges filed,” Coffina told The New York Times.