Homeless man wins court victory against couple who raised $400,000 for him

Rough sleeper Johnny Bobbitt claims Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico spent donations on themselves

Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt in happier times
(Image credit: Kate McClure/GoFundMe)

A couple who raised around $400,000 (£308,000) for a homeless Good Samaritan have been ordered to hand over the money, after a dispute left him back on the streets.

Kate McClure, 29, and Mark D’Amico, 39, must transfer the remainder of the donated cash - estimated at $150,000 (£115,000) - to lawyers representing homeless US military veteran Johnny Bobbitt until the money is properly accounted for, a New Jersey judge ruled yesterday.

Bobbitt, 35, became a viral sensation in October last year when he used his last $20 to buy petrol for McClure, who was stranded on a motorway near Philadelphia after running out of fuel.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

She and boyfriend D’Amico set up an online fundraising page for Bobbitt, whose moving story went viral on social media.

But the relationship between Bobbitt and his benefactors quickly soured. In June, the former marine was asked to leave his new home, a camper van parked on land belonging to McClure’s family in Florence, New Jersey.

Now back living on the streets, with the help of pro bono lawyers Bobbitt filed a lawsuit against the couple, whom he says have failed to hand over the donated money.

Documents filed with the court “contend the couple committed fraud and conspiracy by taking for their personal use a ‘substantial portions of the money raised’”, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Photos shared online by McClure in recent months show the couple enjoying “helicopter rides through the Grand Canyon, trips to New York City with front row tickets to the Broadway show The Book of Mormon and shopping excursions”, says ABC.

For their part, McClure, an administrative assistant, and carpenter D’Amico denied wrongdoing and said they were reluctant to give Bobbitt large sums because of his alleged drug problem.

“Every dollar he ever touched was used for drugs,” D’Amico told NBC’s Megyn Kelly.

D’Amico claims that Bobbitt spent $25,000 (£19,200) “in ‘less than two weeks’ last year on drugs, paying bills, and sending money to his family,” The Daily Beast news site reports.

In yesterday’s ruling, the judge also “ordered McClure and D’Amico to provide a full accounting of the money they raised”, NBC reports.

Speaking after the hearing, at Burlington County Superior Court, Bobbitt told ABC that he felt he had no choice but to seek legal help to access the money raised on his behalf.

“I wish it didn’t come to this,” he said. “I hate that it came to this.”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.