Last year, a homeless man, Johnny Bobbitt, came to the assistance of Kate McClure, whose car had run out of gasoline. With his last $20, he bought her gasoline so she could get home, and as a result of that kind act, a crowdfunding campaign raised more than $400,000 to help Bobbitt, a veteran, get back on his feet.
However, the couple apparently decided that they knew best, claiming that the veteran couldn’t be trusted with the donations. After a lawsuit was filed, their actions have taken on a more sinister look.
Now the question is where that money went, and whether or not McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, spent the money on themselves, rather than on helping the person who saved her from being stranded. The courts have begun to consider this question too, as have the police, as their home was raided by New Jersey officials.
The Burlington couple, who Bobbitt accused of spending the money on themselves, may soon find themselves indicted and without an attorney to represent them.
On Thursday, two days after their lawyer, Ernest E. Badway, found out that none of the money raised to help improve the veteran’s lot in life was left, their home was raided by local authorities.
While executing the search warrant on their Florence Township home, the police seized a black BMW and other items owned by the couple.
On Friday, Badway filed a motion in court, asking for a stay in the civil trial, brought by the homeless veteran and his pro bono representation.
He suggested that, since there were likely to be criminal charges filed soon, his firm could no longer represent the pair.
According to their lawyer (for now, at least) police seized “everything of value” from the couple’s home, including cash, jewelry, and financial records.
Among the evidence entered into the evidence log of the search warrant were Louis Vuitton bags, ‘miscellaneous’ casino chips, paperwork, and receipts.
Much of the ‘documentation’ was illegible.
What started out as a ‘feel-good’ story of a couple helping the man who helped them seems to poised to turn into a story about greed.
Though the couple raised more than $400,000, they claimed that they gave him only as much as $200,000.
They said that they bought him a used truck and a camper home, but claimed that he was blowing through the cash they gave him by purchasing drugs.
On August 27, 2018, the pair appeared on Megyn Kelly Today, and claimed that they still had $150,000 of his money, and that they would give it to him when he stopped doing drugs and got a job.
However, once the Cozen O’Connor law firm in Philadelphia filed suit on behalf of Bobbitt, and a judge ordered the couple to turn over what was left of the funds into an escrow account, their tune changed.
According to Badway, his clients plan to invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination concerning what happened to the money that they claimed to have less than a month ago.
Gofundme, the crowdfunding website where the money was raised for the homeless hero, announced that it will make sure he gets the money that was raised for him, whether the civil lawsuit manages to recover his missing funds or not.
In a nod to making that promise a reality, the website already deposited $20,000 in a bank account, set up in conjunction with Bobbitt’s legal team, to help tide him over while the case is ongoing.
His legal team, in a statement last week, said that they believe D’Amico and McClure only turned over around $75,000 of the money raised to their client.
They also acknowledged that he had issues with drug addiction, and said that he was checking into a 30-day drug recovery program.
Perhaps the worst part of the entire story is that the pair’s attorney, Ernest Badway, initially told a judge that, according to the claims by his clients, there was some $200,000 of the funds left in an account.
When they told him that there was actually no longer any money left, Superior Court Judge Paula Dow, a former state attorney general, chastised him, and demanded that his clients appear in front of her, rather than allowing him to continue to be their voice in the court.
It seems that the funds have ‘vanished’ from the account where they should have been kept, and the case raised an interesting legal question concerning Gofundme and the dispensation of funds raised on the site.
However, what’s really important is that the person the money was raised for, Bobbitt, is made whole, and that the people who likely made off with the funds are held accountable.
Pleading the Fifth is a smart move if there’s not other evidence indicating guilt. When the funds disappeared from a bank account under someone’s control, which appears to be the case here, it’s not as smart.
Now begins the long process of getting justice for a man who just wanted to help someone out. Thankfully, it seems like Gofundme and competent legal representation are dedicated to ensuring he gets what he has coming to him.