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United States

US couple ordered to turn over funds raised for homeless ‘Good Samaritan’

Pair raised US$400,000 for Johnny Bobbitt after he lent the woman his last US$20 to buy fuel after she ran out on a motorway late at night

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 August, 2018, 8:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 31 August, 2018, 8:08pm

A couple who raised more than US$400,000 for a homeless man after he used his last US$20 to fill up the petrol tank of a stranded motorist in Philadelphia must turn over what’s left of the cash.

A New Jersey judge issued the order on Thursday during a hearing on the lawsuit brought by Johnny Bobbitt, who worries Mark D’Amico and Katie McClure have mismanaged a large part of the donations raised for him on GoFundMe.

The couple deny those claims, saying they are wary of giving Bobbitt large sums because they are worried he might buy drugs.

The judge ordered the couple to transfer the money into an escrow account by the end of business on Friday and hire a forensic accountant to review the financial records within 10 days.

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The money will be transferred to an account controlled by Bobbitt’s lawyers but cannot be used until the judge determines how it will be managed. The judge did not appoint a guardian to oversee the fund, but one could be appointed later.

McClure set up the online fundraiser page as a way to give back to Bobbitt, who came to her aid when she ran out of petrol on an Interstate 95 exit ramp late one night. It raised more than US$400,000 donated by about 14,000 people.

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Bobbitt walked a few blocks to buy McClure some petrol. She did not have money to repay him at the time, but sought him out days later to give him the money, and visited him a few more times to take him food and water. They later appeared on programmes like Good Morning America and were interviewed by the BBC.

But the relationship has gone sour.

McClure and D’Amico have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing or misusing any of the money. D’Amico has said Bobbitt spent US$25,000 in less than two weeks in December on drugs, in addition to paying overdue legal bills and sending money to his family.

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The couple also bought Bobbitt a camper with some of the funds and parked it on land McClure’s family owns in Florence. But Bobbitt became homeless again after D’Amico told him in June that he had to leave the property.

During an appearance on Monday on NBC’s Megyn Kelly Today show, D’Amico told Kelly there was well over US$150,000 left of the donations.