Homeless Vet Sues to Recover $400K GoFundMe in His Name
You may have heard the story last year about a homeless vet giving his last $20 to a woman who had run out of gas near Philadelphia. And you might remember that woman and her boyfriend started a GoFundMe for the man, raising funds for food, shelter, and clothing, a campaign that apparently raised nearly $400,000.
What you might not have heard is that vet, Johnny Bobbitt, is back on the street, still addicted to drugs and panhandling for money. Bobbitt is claiming that the couple, Katie McClure and Mark D'Amico, have mismanaged the funds meant for him, and withheld almost half the money raised. He's now suing McClure and D'Amico, seeking a full accounting of the GoFundMe account, and blocking the couple from using any remaining funds.
Never Going to Give Him the Money?
Last week, Bobbitt told the Philadelphia Inquirer he was worried the couple squandered much of the money, and there may be little left of the funds meant for him. "The first thing on the list," read the GoFundMe posting, "is a NEW Home which Johnny will own!!" The couple instead allowed Bobbitt to live in a camper on rural land owned by McClure's family. The promise of his "dream" pickup -- a 1999 Ford Ranger -- instead became a used SUV that often broke down.
Bobbitt, who admittedly has been in and out of rehab twice since last year, also found it curious that the couple (a receptionist for the New Jersey Department of Transportation and a carpenter) could suddenly afford a new BMW and vacations to California, Florida, and Las Vegas, including a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon.
The couple denied any wrongdoing, contending they never gave Bobbitt direct access to the funds because he couldn't be trusted. He once burned through $25,000 in less than two weeks, they claimed, and stole from them to feed his drug habit. D'Amico also claims he gave McClure the BMW as a gift, and vacations were paid for by shows that invited them on to talk about the GoFundMe campaign. It's safe to say the once rosy relationship has soured. D'Amico told Philly.com that giving Bobbitt money while he was addicted to drugs would be like "giving him a loaded gun."
"Giving him all that money, it's never going to happen," D'Amico said. "I'll burn it in front of him."
Lawyers for Bobbitt filed a suit this week, alleging D'Amico and McClure deposited the money into personal accounts, seeking an injunction against their access to the funds, and requesting a "guardian ad litem" be appointed for Bobbitt. The lawsuit also claims the couple committed fraud and conspiracy by taking for their personal use a "substantial portions of the money raised," and seeks monetary relief for funds that should've gone toward getting Bobbitt off the streets.
McClure and D'Amico "conspired to utilize [Bobbitt's] money to enjoy a lifestyle that they could not afford. Defendants admitted to commingling the funds raised for [Bobbitt] in their own personal accounts and have denied [him] access to the account," according to the lawsuit. GoFundMe has also gotten involved, to make sure money donated has not been mismanaged.
- Homeless Again, Johnny Bobbitt Can't Get His GoFundMe Money (Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Legal Tips for Planning Your Crowdfunding Campaign (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
- Getting Paid: Collecting on a Judgment or Jury Award (FindLaw's Injured)
- What Is a Court-Ordered Constructive Trust? (FindLaw's Injured)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.