Philadelphia, PA – A New Jersey couple who helped raise over $400,000 to assist a homeless veteran never turned the remaining funds over to the man’s attorney on Friday, despite a court order.
“There is no money left,” the veteran’s attorney, Christopher Fallon confirmed on Tuesday, according to NJ.com. “Where the money went, I have no idea.”
In November of 2017, 35-year-old homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt used his last $20 to help a woman who had run out of gas on a freeway ramp in a bad neighborhood in Philadelphia.
Bobbitt told 38-year-old Kate 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 her boyfriend, Mark 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.
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 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 funds 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 Bobbitt was “completely devastated” when he heard the news.
"That's a lot of money to go through to in just a short period of time," Fallon noted.
The attorney plans to file paperwork in order to access McClure and D’Amico’s financial records so his team can determine how to proceed.
"We really have to take this one step at a time,” Fallon said. “We are going to follow up as best we can to follow where the money went.”
He is also working to get Bobbitt entered into a drug treatment program, he said.
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.
And there are lots of questions about what D’Amico and McClure may have done with the money donated to help Bobbitt.
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.
Bobbitt said that all he wanted to do was get the money and relocate home to North Carolina or out to Montana with his brother. He was engaged and studying to be a paramedic before he got involved with drugs and ended up homeless, and he had been looking forward to the opportunity to start over, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.