A once uplifting story about two incredible acts of kindness has taken a sour turn and now a judge has ordered a New Jersey couple to pay a homeless man the $150,000 remaining of the $402,706 they raised for him on GoFundMe. The judge also ordered a precise accounting of what happened to the other $252,706.
It is worth noting that when giving interviews a week prior, the couple stated over $200,000 remained, but in a televised interview Monday they stated it was over $150,000.
It all started last November when Katie McClure found herself out of gas on a highway outside Philadelphia. Seeing she needed help, a homeless United States Marine Corps veteran named John “Johnny” Bobbitt, Jr. told McClure to stay in her car as he walked to the nearest gas station.
Bobbitt spent his last $20 to buy her gas. Afterwards McClure, along with her boyfriend Mark D’Amico, became friends with Bobbitt.
They shared the story on Good Morning America and the BBC and became internet celebrities. Eventually they started a GoFundMe page with the stated purpose to help Bobbitt get back on his feet and off the streets.
But the relationship crumbled soon after the campaign went viral and raised over $400,000.
— The Hill (@thehill) September 1, 2018
In an update on the GoFundMe page, McClure announced plans for a home, car and financial trust for Bobbitt.
“The first thing on the list is a NEW Home which Johnny will own!! He will never have to worry about a roof over his head again!! Second will be the dream truck he’s always wanted… a 1999 ford ranger (yes I’m serious).”
“There will also be 2 trusts set up in his name, one essentially giving him the ability to collect a small “salary” each year and another retirement trust which will be wisely invested by a financial planner which he will have access to in a time frame he feels comfortable with so when the time comes he can live his retirement dream of owning a piece of land and a cabin in the country.”
“A bank account will be set up for him with funds for every day needs that will get him through until he finds a job. And lastly, he will be donating to a few organizations and people who over the last couple of years have helped him get through this rough patch in his life.”
However, aside from an unsubstantiated bank account, even the couple’s version of what happened makes it clear none of the promised actions occurred. But, according to the couple, since Bobbitt didn’t have a bank account of his own, McClure and D’Amico had no choice but to take control of the money that was raised.
What happened next turned into a he said-they said and eventual legal battle over control of the remaining money.
According to McClure, she and D’Amico never spent a dollar of the money raised for Bobbitt. In an interview with Megyn Kelly, McClure said she was helping Bobbitt get his papers and I.D. in order to set up a bank account.
During that time Bobbitt had been living on McClure’s family property in a camper purchased for him but kept in McClure’s name.
McClure claimed she and D’Amico considered Bobbitt family.
Shortly after Christmas, D’Amico claimed $25,000—deposited into an account under Bobbitt and McClure’s joint control—was gone within two weeks. The couple said the money already given to Bobbitt was spent on drugs, overdue legal bills and dispersed to his family members.
According to Bobbitt though, McClure and D’Amico spent the money on themselves, buying a BMW and going on vacations to Florida and Las Vegas. According to court records, Bobbitt asked a judge to appoint an outside supervisor to manage the money in the fundraising account.
The couple however denied Bobbitt’s accusation, claiming they spent their own money and bought their new luxury car used. McClure and D’Amico acknowledged they bought Bobbitt a camper in McClure’s name with some of the money and parked it on McClure’s family land.
But D’Amico reportedly told Bobbitt he had to leave the property in June, so Bobbitt was homeless again.
In April, D’Amico told a reporter the remaining GoFundMe money was in two trusts for Bobbitt. Last week, D’Amico told the reporter the trusts had never been created.
Either way, the money is now out of their hands as a Burlington County judge ordered McClure and D’Amico to immediately turn over the remaining funds as well as provide a full account of everything spent.
Opinions about the story were split pretty evenly.
Some agreed with the judge’s ruling and were outraged that the couple had attempted to keep the money meant for Bobbitt.
Great ruling, this is a pretty pathetic couple.
— mt (@kowbyfan1) September 1, 2018
Good… exploiting the needy for personal gain is pretty sucky
— GamingSolo (@G4mingSolo) August 31, 2018
I believe him and they should be forced to put it back that is FRAUD
— So (@2niceascanbe) August 31, 2018
These people are truly disgusting using the plight of this man to exploit the kindness of the public for their own cause how low can some people get
— Josephine Hibbert (@JoJo_Hibbs) September 1, 2018
While others leaned towards believing McClure and D’Amico’s version of events.
They helped him get documents, they let him in their home for months, they helped his family members, they helped getting him into rehab. He then turned and spent it mostly on drugs. Don’t hate these people. Don’t hate him. And don’t give up hope on those who fall. ?
— Cat Alexiadis (@Cat_astrophe18) September 1, 2018
I just think it’s wrong to vilify them before the facts are all known. It’s just the way of the world now I guess. People pass judgement without all the info. Just like they donate $ without any real idea if it’s helpful or not.
— Mo (@MartitaO) September 1, 2018
Yu can’t just give a homeless man a bunch of cash and think that is going to solve his problems. Bad move.
— Edward Bourelly (@EBourelly) August 31, 2018
Many though were just turned off by the whole thing and hated watching a once uplifting story turn so bad.
Jeez is anyone truly kindhearted anymore? pic.twitter.com/72uH890Qci
— Walker Space Ranger (@CowboyBebop011) September 1, 2018
And that folks, is WHY I am leary of go fund me. Need stricter guidelines to avoid this type of thing. Anyone can set up an account, tell a story and out of kindness people donate.
— r.aracelys ?? ?? (@abonilla20650) September 1, 2018
Yes I don’t donate to this idk where the money is goin ppl could be lying never know
— MICKEY WEISTER (@KoreanWarrior33) September 1, 2018
Proof that no good deed goes unpunished.
— 12th Great Grandson of Baltimore says (@RickCalvert) September 1, 2018
— Chuck Taylor (@SEAallday206) August 31, 2018
People also need to stop giving away money because “viral”
— ??????????? (@eliphas_ignis) August 31, 2018
But hopefully the full accounting ordered by the judge will eventually tells us the real story behind the GoFundMe gone wrong.
Can’t wait to read about the accounting of all the funds.
— Kevin Fitzgerald (@KJF1tz) August 31, 2018