MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. - UPDATE: A lawyer for a homeless man whose act of selflessness went viral and led to donations of over $400,000 said Tuesday that all the money is gone, The Associated Press reported.
A judge Thursday ruled that a New Jersey couple who raised more than $400,000 for homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt via a GoFundMe campaign had until Friday afternoon to hand over what is left of the cash, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Superior Court Judge Paula T. Dow ordered Kate McClure, 28, and Mark D'Amico, 35, to transfer the money into an escrow account by Friday afternoon and hire a forensic accountant to review the financial records within 10 days.
Bobbitt’s attorney, Chris Fallon, expressed shock when he learned Tuesday from the couple’s lawyer that all of the money is gone, The Associated Press reported. The couple’s attorney had no comment.
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Bobbitt, a former Marine living under a ramp on I-95, gave McClure his last $20 when she ran out of gas on the intestate in Philadelphia. After McClure posted about the act of kindness on Facebook, she and D’Amico set up a GoFundMe page that raised more than $400,000 within a week for Bobbitt, 35.
"The funds should be removed from (D'Amico's and McClure's control) and frozen," Dow said.
The money will be transferred to an account controlled by Bobbitt's pro bono attorneys. The funds cannot be used until the court determines how they would be managed, the Inquirer reported.
Bobbitt's lawyers filed a lawsuit this week against McClure and D'Amico, alleging that the two committed fraud and conspiracy by taking large amounts of the donations to "enjoy a lifestyle they could not afford" and using the account as "their personal piggy bank."
Bobbitt had said he had no access to the $200,000 left over from donors, WPVI reported.
Earlier this month, D'Amico said the money was in the couple's savings account.
"I wish it didn't come to this," Bobbitt told WPVI. "I hate that it came to this.
"I always felt like I was in a weird situation. I didn't want to be pressuring to get a lawyer or do anything because I didn't want to seem ungrateful.”
In her ruling, Dow ordered a full accounting of the money, the Inquirer reported.
"We don't know where it went, but we will find out," Bobbitt’s attorney, Chris Fallon, told WPVI. "And we will know how much money remains after the money is transferred from the defendants to our escrow account."
McClure, D'Amico and Bobbitt did not attend the hearing. The couple’s attorney, Ernest E. Badway, said Bobbitt had received a total of about $200,000 in November when the GoFundMe account was set up.
"The idea my clients are the bad guys … is completely not true," Badway told Dow.
"They took time out of their own schedules, their own jobs, brought him to rehab centers. … gave him cash on a daily basis."
Bobbitt said he received about $75,000, including a camper and pickup truck the couple bought in their names that eventually were sold.
"I had to ask them for everything in the beginning. It was like a joke, they were like my parents, but the joke starts not being funny," he said.
Bobbitt remains homeless and is struggling with addiction, his lawyers said. He spent one night in a motel last week but has been living on the streets while attending a nonresidential detox treatment program, the Inquirer reported.
Badway argued in court that meeting the Friday deadline for turning over the money was difficult and “a harsh remedy.”
"The banks are open Friday, most banks are open Saturday,” Dow told the attorney. “And if the monies aren't in the bank, they can pull their money out of their pillowcases and have them delivered to you, to be handed over and placed in a trust account."
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