Couple accused of misusing €350,000 raised for homeless man
The pair started a GoFundMe page after the man used his last dollars to help one of them
Photograph from November 17th, 2017, of Johnny Bobbitt, Katie McClure and Mark D’Amico in Philadelphia, US. File photograph: Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP
A US couple who raised more than $400,000 (about €350,000) for a homeless man after he used his last few dollars to help one of them have been ordered to turn over what is left of the cash.
A New Jersey judge issued the order during a hearing on a case brought by the homeless man, Johnny Bobbitt, who is concerned Mark D’Amico and Katie McClure have mismanaged a large part of the donations raised for him on GoFundMe.
The couple deny those claims, saying they are wary of giving Mr Bobbitt large sums because they fear he will buy drugs.
The judge ordered the couple to transfer the money into an escrow account by the end of business on Friday and hire a forensic accountant to review the financial records within 10 days.
The money will be transferred to an account controlled by Mr Bobbitt’s lawyers but cannot be used until the judge determines how it will be managed. The judge did not appoint a guardian to oversee the fund, but one could be appointed later.
Ms McClure set up the online fundraising page as a way to give back to Mr Bobbitt, who came to her aid when she ran out of fuel on an Interstate 95 exit ramp in Philadelphia late one night last October.
More than 14,000 people have made donations through the page.
Mr Bobbitt had set off on foot to buy Ms McClure some fuel. She did not have money to repay him at the time, but sought him out days later to give him the money, and visited him a few more times to bring food and water.
They later appeared together on shows like Good Morning America and conducted a number of interviews.
But the relationship has gone sour.
Ms McClure and Mr D’Amico have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing or misusing any of the money. Mr D’Amico has said Mr Bobbitt spent $25,000 in less than two weeks in December on drugs, in addition to paying overdue legal bills and sending money to his family.
The couple also bought Mr Bobbitt a camper with some of the funds and parked it on land Ms McClure’s family owns in Florence.
But Mr Bobbitt became homeless again after Mr D’Amico told him in June that he had to leave the property.
During an appearance on Monday on NBC’s Megyn Kelly Today show, Mr D’Amico said there was well in excess of $150,000 left of the donations. – AP