Johnny Bobbitt is reportedly homeless and asking for money on the Philadelphia streets less than a year after he selflessly helped a stranded person, earning him viral attention and hundreds of thousands in crowdfunded donations.
In October 2017, Kate McClure ran out of petrol on the interstate. Bobbitt, a homeless veteran, then suggested she get back in the car and lock the doors so she could be safe while he walked to the nearest petrol station to fill a can using his last $20.
McClure was so overwhelmed with the act of kindness she started a GoFundMe campaign with the intention of raising $US10,000 ($13,737) — enough money to buy Bobbitt a vehicle and give him first and last month’s rent for an apartment and enough money to live on for about half a year.
The campaign went viral and eventually raised $US402,706 ($553,188). McClure updated the GoFundMe page to explain what she intended to do with all the money:
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 organisations and people who over the last couple of years have helped him get through this rough patch in his life.
But that isn’t exactly what ended up happening with the funds, according to a report from Philadelphia newspaper The Inquirer.
The Inquirer reports that McClure let Bobbitt stay in a camper on her family’s rural property in New Jersey, near where McClure lives with her boyfriend Mark D’Amico. Instead of the Ford Ranger, the couple gave him a used SUV, which reportedly broke down. They said they put the camper and SUV in McClure’s name to prevent Bobbitt from selling them, but now those vehicles have been sold by the couple.
Bobbitt told The Inquirer he had a short meeting with the financial analyst but didn’t make any agreements with them and was never provided documents for a trust. Bobbitt also said he didn’t meet the attorney that McClure and D’Amico said they hired for him.
However, two lawyers at a Philadelphia firm have now agreed to represent Bobbitt as he tries to determine whether the GoFundMe money was mismanaged by McClure and D’Amico. The crowdfunding company is also investigating the matter.
“GoFundMe is looking into the claims of misuse regarding this campaign,” GoFundMe spokesperson Bartlett Jackson said in a statement he shared with Gizmodo. “We will work to ensure that Johnny receives the help he deserves and that the donors intentions are honored.”
Bobbitt’s attorneys, Jacqueline Promislo and Chris Fallon of Cozen O’Connor, did not respond to a Gizmodo request for comment from them and Bobbitt. Promislo told The Inquirer that she thinks Bobbitt “is just a genuine, sincere person who has been the victim of so many bad circumstances”.
McClure did not respond to a Gizmodo request for comment, but The Inquirer interviewed her and D’Amico last week. They said they gave Bobbitt more than half of the crowdfunded money, but are withholding about $US200,000 ($274,735) from him.
D’Amico said the money is in a savings account and they will share the money with Bobbitt once he is employed and stops using drugs. Although he doesn’t think that will actually transpire.
“Giving him all that money, it’s never going to happen. I’ll burn it in front of him,” D’Amico told The Inquirer. He compared giving those funds to a drug-addicted person to “giving him a loaded gun”.
But D’Amico has had his own legal struggles recently, according The Inquirer — his drivers licence was suspended, and he was arrested after he failed to show up to municipal court for traffic offences. Bobbitt told The Inquirer that he believes D’Amico may have gambled away some of the crowdfunded money.
D’Amico told The Inquirer he spent $US500 ($687) of the money on gambling because he was missing his Sugar House Casino card one night — but he replenished the funds with his casino winnings.
Bobbitt also brought up concerns about a BMW McClure purchased, and the couples’ recent holidays to California, Florida and Las Vegas. But the couple told The Inquirer that they used their own money for the car and trips. They also told The Inquirer Bobbitt spent $US25,000 ($34,342) in less than a couple of weeks, and stole items from them so he could buy drugs.
Bobbitt denied the allegations of theft. He did say that the couple gave him $US25,000 ($34,342) at one point, and he shared it with friends and family, and spent some of it on drugs. He said he spends about $US15 ($21) a day on opiates or a prescription medication that aids withdrawal from drug addiction.
The Inquirer could not confirm what exactly happened with the money as the couple would not provide official accounting or financial statements.
McClure told the newspaper she did the best that she could helping Bobbitt, but she feels betrayed and is worried she could lose her job over this matter.