A couple who raised more than $400,000 for a homeless man have been given 24-hours to hand over the cash he’s accused them of pocketing.
In November last year, Kate McClure, 28, set up a GoFundMe page to help John Bobbitt Jr, a homeless veteran, get back on his feet after the homeless man gave her $20 when she ran out of petrol.
Now, a judge in New Jersey ordered a couple to hand over money raised from a GoFundMe campaign to a homeless man whose kind gesture went viral last year.
The lawsuit filed by Johnny Bobbitt Jr. claims the couple – Kate McClure and boyfriend Mark D'Amico – have spent much of the $400,000 they raised through GoFundMe on themselves, ABC reports.
A judge approved a temporary restraining order requiring the couple to hand over the money to Bobbitt's lawyers to set up a trust.
According to CBS Philly, the couple claims they've given Bobbitt $200,000, but his attorneys allege he has only received $75,000.
In an interview with US media, Bobbitt claimed the couple used the money on trips, gambling and shopping sprees.
He also said he has no money and remains homeless. "I always felt like I was in a weird situation," Bobbitt was quoted as saying.
"I didn't want to be pressuring to get a lawyer or do anything because I didn't want to seem ungrateful."
During an interview this week on Megyn Kelly Today, the couple said they didn't want to give Bobbitt the full $400,000 raised because of concerns he might use it for drugs.
"We saw the pattern that was developing ... that he was going to do something foolish and end up right back where he was," D'Amico said.
Ernest Badway, the couple's attorney, said they have received death threats since the scandal, ABC reports.
"Please don't rush to judgment," Badway said. "When you see it, the numbers that we're talking about are not that far off."
How it happened
A random act of kindness made by a homeless man to a perfect stranger went viral on social media in November last year.
The story started on a dark highway in New Jersey in October 2017, where Kate McClure was stuck in her car that ran out of petrol.
She was forced to pull over and tried to walk to the nearest petrol station on foot, the Huffington Post reported.
But a nearby, a homeless man came to her aid. The man told her not to leave her car and lock the doors while he went instead.
McClure said the man, Johnny, spent his last $20 on a can of fuel for her.
She’s returned the favour. And the story is all over the place: ABC News, Good Morning America, Fox and Time, among others.
McClure told The Philadelphia Inquirer that at the time her car ran out of fuel, she didn’t have cash on her to repay Johnny.
The next day, McClure and her partner came back to Johnny’s spot along the side of the road to return the money.
Then she made it part of her routine to stop by to chat with Johnny and give him a few dollars. Rather than simply reimburse Johnny, she got creative: In November, McClure decided to set up a GoFundMe page for Johnny.
“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 on the GoFundMe page. “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 campaign has raised over $400,000 ― far surpassing its $10,000 goal. Many of the 10,400 donors chipped in with $10 or $20.
McClure told US media that she originally intended to use the funds to set Johnny up in his own apartment with some essentials and enough money to last him a few months while he looked for employment.
“He is very interested in finding a job, and I believe that with a place to be able to clean up every night and get a good night’s rest, his life can get back to being normal,” she wrote.
“Truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break. Hopefully with your help I can be the one to give it to him.”
McClure said Johnny served with the Marine Corps and worked as a firefighter and paramedic. She even shared some photos of him from an old Facebook page.
After Johnny learnt about McClure's fund drvie, he told her to stop the campaign. He told her that he didn’t want to take advantage of the kindness of strangers.
McClure briefly suspended the campaign earlier this week. But she resumed it by popular demand.
This McClure's own video of Johnny.
Now, faced with a huge surplus of funding, McClure said Johnny has “more than a few ideas of where this money can go.”
“He is fully aware of the interest in this over the last few days,” she wrote. “It will be his decision and his decision only on what organizations and or private parties he decides to help!”