A New Jersey man being investigated for allegedly stealing the money in a GoFundMe account set up to help a homeless vet was arrested for warrants unrelated to the fundraising controversy, police said.
Mark D’Amico and girlfriend Katelyn McClure face a lawsuit and criminal investigation for allegedly misappropriating a portion of the over $400,000 they raised on GoFundMe for homeless man Johnny Bobbitt.
Bobbitt was hailed a hero when he spent his last $20 to help the stranded motorist McClure put gas in her car. She posted the story on social media and it went viral.
Police in Florence Township said D’Amico was picked up on Sept. 10, on charges that had nothing to do with the Bobbitt fundraiser. Deputies did not reveal the nature of the charges, but KYW-TV said it was related to a traffic stop.
“Mark D’Amico was taken into custody last night at his residence at 9:20 p.m. for outstanding warrants. Mr. D’Amico was processed for the warrants and was transported to Burlington County Jail,” Florence police said in a Facebook post.
“THE OUTSTANDING WARRANTS FOR MR. D’AMICO’S ARREST WERE UNRELATED TO THE GOFUNDME INVESTIGATION.”
D’Amico was subsequently released after posting $500 bail.
D’Amico and McClure will probably face criminal charges, according to their lawyer.
Attorney Ernest Badway wrote in a letter that came to light on Sept. 10, that his firm would no longer be representing Mark D’Amico and Katelyn McClure, NBC reported.
“(Since) it is expected that one or both of the defendants will likely be indicted, my firm and I will no longer be able to continue our representation of them in this matter,” Badway wrote, according to the report.
Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina last week confirmed that a criminal investigation into the couple had been launched.
Coffina said in a statement, “Due to the enormous public interest in this matter, I am confirming that a search warrant was executed early this morning by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office and the Florence Township Police Department at the residence of Mark D’Amico and Katelyn McClure in connection with a criminal investigation into the Johnny Bobbitt matter.”
No charges have been brought against D’Amico or McClure.
Badway has declined to comment on the case and it is unclear whether he will represent the two if the case moves to criminal proceedings.
Feel-Good Story Turned Sour
The couple raised over $400,000 for Johnny Bobbitt after he used his last $20 to help McClure when her car ran out of gas and she became stranded near an I-95 exit ramp in Philadelphia.
But what initially was a feel-good story that went viral on social media and led to TV appearances, eventually turned sour amid accusations the couple was withholding the money from Bobbitt.
The homeless military veteran and former paramedic brought a suit against the couple.
Lawyers representing Bobbitt said he had received about $75,000, while Badway claimed his clients had turned over about $200,000.
Last week Badway said that none of the $400,000 remains.
‘Johnny Will Be Made Whole’
Online fundraising site GoFundMe announced on Sept. 6, that Bobbitt would get all the money from the online campaign.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Bobby Whithorne, director of North America communications for GoFundMe, said in a statement: “Johnny will be made whole, and 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 [the] support he deserves.”
GoFundMe will also refund donors too, waiving a 30-day restriction that would have applied to the 10-month-old campaign.
“This is an extremely rare situation, and we are working with law enforcement officials to get Johnny the money raised on his behalf, which means the 30-day policy does not apply in this case,” Whithorne said in a statement issued on Sept. 6, reported the Inquirer.
What Happened to the Money?
The couple denies allegations of mismanagement, saying they were reluctant to give Bobbitt such a large sum of money out of fear he would buy drugs.
According to the New York Post, Bobbitt’s lawyer, Jacqueline Promislo, said the couple started spending the money right after they deposited the online donations meant for Bobbitt into their bank account last fall.
“They went on shopping sprees,’ Promislo said. “[Bobbitt] tells me they had a Louis Vuitton bag and Chanel sunglasses, a new iPhone 10.”
Investigators executed a search warrant on Sept. 6 at the home of D’Amico and McClure, and could be seen removing a black BMW on the back of a flatbed truck.
“From what I can see, the GoFundMe account raised $402,000 and GoFundMe charged a fee of approximately $30,000,” Bobbitt’s lawyer Chris Fallon told CNN on Aug. 25. “Mark D’Amico and Katelyn McClure gave Johnny about $75,000. There should be close to another $300,000 available to Johnny.”
McClure said on the GoFundMe page that the money would be used to buy Bobbitt a house and truck, and the rest would be placed in two trusts—one that would let him “collect a small ‘salary’ each year” and another for his retirement.
Promislo said that it will be possible to say what happened to the money only once an investigation has run its course.
“Until we have a forensic accountant go through it, I can’t say that they spent his money,” said Promislo. “But now that they say there is no money, where did it go?”
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