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United States

US police raid house of couple accused of stealing homeless Johnny Bobbitt’s GoFundMe cash

Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico set up an online fundraiser for a homeless stranger whose selfless gesture touched hearts around the world. Then the story took a dark twist

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 September, 2018, 2:23pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 September, 2018, 12:38am

Johnny Bobbitt Jnr will get his US$400,000.

GoFundMe and Cozen O’Connor, the Philadelphia law firm representing the homeless man, announced Thursday evening that Bobbitt will receive an amount equal to the balance of the funds from the online fundraiser set up for him in November.

“We’re committing that he’ll get the balance of the funds that he has not yet received or benefited from. GoFundMe’s goal has always been to ensure Johnny gets support he deserves,” said the statement.

“This is an extremely rare situation and we are working with law enforcement officials to get Johnny the money raised on his behalf,” said Bobby Whithorne, director of North America Communications for GoFundMe.

What happened to the actual donations is now under criminal investigation.

US law enforcement officials converged Thursday on the New Jersey home of the couple accused of stealing money from a GoFundMe campaign set up to help Johnny Bobbitt, a homeless man whose kindness to a stranger touched hearts across the nation and beyond.

Several investigators searched the Burlington County home of Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico, who set up the fund to help Bobbitt after he spent his last US$20 to buy gas for McClure when her car stalled on an I-95 overpass near Kensington last year.

The campaign was wildly successful, attracting contributions of more than US$400,000. But the couple’s stated plans to get Bobbitt a home and set up two trusts to ensure his financial independence quickly dissolved, and Bobbitt accused them of squandering the money on vacations, a BMW and gambling. He sued them to try to recover the donated funds, but earlier this week, a lawyer for the couple said the money was gone.

Early Thursday, Florence Township police and investigators from the Burlington County prosecutor’s office executed a search warrant on the couple’s home as part of a criminal investigation, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said.

On Wednesday, a Superior Court judge ordered McClure and D’Amico to give sworn testimony about their stewardship of the money in depositions scheduled for Monday. Their lawyer, Ernest E. Badway, said at the time that McClure and D’Amico would invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

McClure, 28, and D’Amico, 39, were at home Thursday during the early-morning search. McClure was inside the house and D’Amico was on the porch, pacing and talking on his phone. McClure later drove away without responding to requests for comment from reporters massed at the end of the driveway.

Investigators carted out several boxes and put them into a black car. Authorities towed the couple’s BMW.

Law enforcement officials left around 9.45am, and about 20 minutes later, McClure drove away from the house in a Subaru. She did not respond to requests for comment.

Earlier in the day, GoFundMe announced it was taking steps to make it easier for donors to the Bobbitt campaign to get their money back.