Last year, a New Jersey couple raised $US400,000 (that's around AU$553,431) on GoFundMe to help a kind homeless man get his life back together. Now, the man’s attorney says all the money is gone and his client received only a fraction of the donations.
Last October, Bobbitt came across Kate McClure while she sat in her vehicle on the side of a New Jersey interstate, having run out of fuel. Bobbitt told her to lock her doors, hang tight, and went to get her some gasoline. McClure said she was moved by his generosity, tracked him down, and set up a GoFundMe with a $US10,000 ($13,836) goal intended to help Bobbitt find a place to live and buy a truck. After the story went viral, McClure appeared on many major television programs along with her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico. The couple urged the public to help this kind soul and eventually raised a little over $US400,000 ($553,431). That’s enough money to change anyone’s life, but things went wrong over the ensuing months, and on Tuesday Bobbitt’s attorney told the press that a lawyer representing the couple said the money is all gone.
In August, Bobbitt told Philadelphia newspaper The Inquirer that he had only received a portion of the funds that were donated for him and that he feared the couple had mishandled the rest of what he was owed. He quickly retained pro-bono counsel and initiated a court proceeding accusing D’Amico and McClure of fraud and conspiracy to appropriate the money for their own personal use.
For a short time, the two parties traded accusations in the press and in court. As of today, those details are far less relevant. D’Amico claimed that Bobbitt has a substance abuse problem and that the couple was merely doing the responsible thing by giving him a little bit of money at a time. Bobbitt claimed that he’d received about $US75,000 ($103,768), including the cost of an SUV and a camper he received. D’Amico’s story has changed over time, but in the course of a week, he alternately said that $US150,000 ($207,537) and $US200,000 ($276,715) was still left of the money. Last Thursday, a court ordered the remaining funds transferred into an escrow account controlled by Bobbitt’s attorneys by the following day.
On Tuesday, the case took the worst possible turn. Bobbitt’s attorney Chris Fallon said he was told the money is all gone. From The Inquirer:
Fallon said he learned of the missing money in a conference call Tuesday morning with lawyers for Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico, the Burlington County couple accused of mismanaging the money raised for Bobbitt.
“It completely shocked me when I heard,” said Fallon. “It came as a complete surprise to me.”
Word of the missing money came on the same day Bobbitt’s lawyers asked a judge to impose sanctions on the couple after the pair missed a court-ordered deadline to hand over the remaining GoFundMe money. Bobbitt hired a legal team after becoming concerned that the couple had squandered much of the money raised to help him get off the streets. He said they denied him access to the funds while spending money on expensive vacations and a new BMW.
The couple agreed last week to have a forensic accountant file a complete report of how the money has been spent by September 10th. It’s unclear how the case will proceed from here. Contacted by Gizmodo, the couple’s attorney, Earnest Badway, declined to comment. Bobbitt’s legal team to did not immediately respond to questions. Fallon told The Inquirer that the next hearing could be as early as Wednesday.
The extravagances that Bobbitt suspected the couple used the money to pay for included a new BMW, and vacations to California, Florida, and Las Vegas. Bobbitt has also said he fears D’Amico has a gambling problem, something that D’Amico has denied.
As for D’Amico’s allegation that Bobbitt’s issues with drugs made him unfit to receive the money, Bobbitt has admitted in official court documents that he spends $US15 ($21) every day to either buy opiates or Suboxone, a drug distributed at clinics to help addicts kick their opioid addiction. Bobbitt’s legal team says that they were able to enrol their client in a 28-day residential detox program on Monday and it will be paid for through a scholarship fund.
It would seem safe to say that Bobbitt’s life is better today than it was before this whole saga kicked off last fall. Meanwhile, his legal team has asked the court to restrict the couple’s travel out of fears that they might be a flight risk.