Philadelphia homeless man’s lawyer says couple who raised $400k for him is withholding money
PHILADELPHIA — Johnny Bobbitt Jr. had a new life ahead of him.
Last October, the homeless man used his last $20 to buy gas for a woman, Kate McClure, who was stranded on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia. McClure, in return, created a GoFundMe campaign with her boyfriend Mark D’Amico to raise money for Bobbitt to thank him.
McClure and Bobbitt’s story quickly transformed into a viral “feel-good” story, and the campaign, as of Friday night, raised a total of $402,706 within nine months.
But what started as a good deed has now devolved into an all-out feud. Bobbitt’s lawyer says a large portion of money never reached his client.
“From what I can see, the GoFundMe account raised $402,000 and GoFundMe charged a fee of approximately $30,000. Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure gave Johnny about $75,000. There should be close to another $300,000 available to Johnny,” Bobbitt’s lawyer Chris Fallon told CNN on Friday.
Fallon says he and another attorney, Jacqueline Promislo, are working to get that money back. The goal, Fallon said, is to secure a guardian to manage that money so the 14,000 people who contributed to the GoFundMe campaign would know where their money is going.
A spokesperson for GoFundMe said the crowdfunding website “is looking into the claims of misuse regarding this campaign.”
“When there is a dispute, we work with all parties involved to ensure funds go to the right place,” GoFundMe’s statement read. “We will work to ensure that Johnny receives the help he deserves and that the donors’ intentions are honored.”
Misuse, the company said, “is very rare on our platform.” Misused campaigns make up “less than one-tenth of 1% of all campaigns.”
The relationship between Bobbitt and McClure began to deteriorate when she and her boyfriend bought Bobbitt a camper — they originally promised him a house — and parked it in their driveway in New Jersey, where Bobbitt lived until June, Promislo said.
“This was not his choice and he didn’t have any say in the matter,” Promislo said. “Johnny would have preferred to go back to North Carolina. That would have been a much better environment.”
Bobbitt, a North Carolina native, “had no access to money or food” while living in the camper, Promislo said. “He didn’t have any ability to take care of himself there.”
Promislo said the camper was bought with the money from GoFundMe. McClure and D’Amico also bought Bobbitt a truck, which they drove. The truck ended up breaking down.
CNN has reached out to both McClure and D’Amico, but has not received a response.
Fallon said Bobbitt has an addiction problem, and that’s possibly a reason McClure didn’t want to give him any more money.
“It’s not heroin or opioids but another drug problem,” Fallon said.
In an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, McClure said she and D’Amico did what they could to help Bobbitt. The couple told the paper they gave Bobbitt more than half the money but are withholding the rest until he gets a job and is drug-free.
D’Amico told the Inquirer that he controls the money but thinks neither he nor his girlfriend did anything wrong. He said giving such a large amount of money to an addict is like giving someone a loaded gun.
The Inquirer also said Bobbitt wondered how McClure paid for a new BMW and went on vacations to California, Florida and Las Vegas. McClure said the couple used their own money for the BMW and vacations. D’Amico told the Inquirer he spent $500 of the GoFundMe money to gamble, but he paid the money back to the campaign.
Promislo told CNN she can’t speak to the claims made in the Inquirer.
Promislo said Bobbitt is currently living on the streets of Philadelphia “in harm’s way.” He was very successful at a methadone clinic before, she said. He had detoxed himself, but she said he is not physically in detox now.