Homeless man’s GoFundMe money ‘gone’ — NJ judge orders couple to appear
MOUNT HOLLY — A judge ordered Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico to appear before her in court in order to find out what happened to the $400,000 that they raised through a GoFundMe campaign for homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt Jr.
The order by Superior Court Judge Paula Dow comes a day after Bobbitt's attorney, Chris Fallon, told New Jersey 101.5 that the donated funds are gone — even though his clients had been saying publicly that $150,000 to $200,000 remained in the bank.
Fallon said that the revelation came during a conference call on Tuesday between Fallon and Ernest Badway, the lawyer for McClure and D'Amico, after they missed a Friday deadline to turn the funds over to Bobbitt.
It's still not clear where the money went.
The hearing Wednesday was the second one before Dow since Bobbitt's attorney, working for free, filed a lawsuit claiming that the couple used the money to go on lavish vacations. The couple did not appear at either hearing.
Dow extended the deadline to Friday, Sept. 14, for the funds to be returned to Bobbitt.
The judge also ordered McClure and Bobbitt to both appear in court that Friday.
"I am no longer comfortable with counsel representing what their clients purport to say when I have no certifications from the client, no appearances by the client and a record before me that lacks clarity at times as to what happened to the funds," Dow said.
During discussion with Dow during the hearing Wednesday, Badway said that all the funds went to Bobbitt, which drew the ire of Dow who said the limited expedited discovery she ordered in the case was to identify where the money is and to place what remains in escrow until the court decides what to do with it.
"Are you suggesting your clients handed monies over to Mr. Bobbitt?" Dow asked.
"Yes, your honor. That answered the first question. Where the monies are," Badway responded.
Dow on Wednesday asked Badway to clarify his answer during last Friday's hearing that Bobbitt had received more than $200,000 of the donations, which the judge estimated leaves $75,000 to $80,000 that still unaccounted for.
Badway said that from the documents he had seen, $200,000 went to Bobbitt but "I have not seen everything."
After getting assurances from Badway that McClure and D'Amico would stay in the area, Dow did not limit their travels.
Dow ordered a deposition to be held Monday at Badway's office in Moorestown. Each side will be limited to ten questions.
Fallon told the court that Bobbitt is about to enter a 30-day residential drug rehabilitation program and it would be detrimental to his treatment to travel for the deposition. The judge said that she would allow Bobbitt to give his deposition at the New Jersey rehab facility if they allow it.
Dow said Badway's suggestion to postpone the deposition was "ludicrous."
McClure and boyfriend D'Amico, who live in Florence, created a GoFundMe page for Bobbitt after he used his last $20 in November to help her fill up her gas tank after she got stranded on Route 95 in South Philadelphia.
The page raised more than $400,000 from thousands of people for the former Marine.
D'Amico admitted to Philly.com and to Megyn Kelly on NBC that he'd used $500 of the money meant for Bobbitt to go gambling, but he told Kelly he had permission and paid it back.
Images of the trips that the couple shared on social media have since been deleted or made private. A listener provided NJ 101.5 with screenshots of the pictures.
The couple told Kelly last week that they used their own money for the trips and vehicles, and said there was $150,000 left in the account although they did not offer any proof.
GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne said the company is working with law enforcement to "ensure Johnny receives all of the funds raised on his behalf." A spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office said prosecutors were not yet involved in this case.
The company also provided $20,000 to Bobbitt and his attorney.
"While we assist law enforcement with their ongoing investigation, GoFundMe is also working with Johnny's legal team to ensure he's receiving support while the remaining funds are being recovered. GoFundMe has given $20,000 to a bank account created by Johnny's legal team to provide assistance during the investigation," Whithorne said in a statement.
He said that all donations are protected by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which gives donors a refund of up to $1,000 if law enforcement determines the funds were misused.