Authorities in New Jersey have executed a search warrant at the home of a couple accused of withholding hundreds of thousands of dollars raised through a GoFundMe campaign for a homeless good Samaritan.
The Burlington County Prosecutor's Office and the Florence Township Police Department executed a search warrant on the Florence, N.J., home of Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico, hauling away boxes and bags of evidence as well as a new BMW, according to local media.
It was the latest twist in a onetime feel-good story about Johnny Bobbitt, who spent his last $20 to buy gas for McClure when she became stranded on a highway in Philadelphia previous year, and the couple who found 14,000 people online who were so touched by his kindness that they donated to a fund to help him start a new life.
McClure set the page up to give back to Bobbitt, who helped her when she ran out of gas on an Interstate 95 exit ramp late one night. To thank Bobbitt for his kindness, McClure and her boyfriend subsequently set up a campaign on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe that was meant to help Bobbitt get back on his feet.
Chris Fallon, an attorney representing Bobbitt, told NBC Philadelphia this week that he was "shocked" and "appalled" to learn during a call with the couple's attorneys that the more-than $402,000 they raised was completely gone.
Mr D'Amico has said Bobbitt spent $34,000 in less than two weeks previous year on drugs as well as paying for overdue legal bills and sending money to family.
GoFundMe said it is working with law enforcement to ensure Bobbitt gets all the money he is due.
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.
"We'll continue to assist with the ongoing law enforcement investigation", the statement continued.
Whithorne said the 30-day policy will not apply to Bobbitt's donors.
In purported text messages between D'Amico and Bobbitt before the lawsuit and investigation, D'Amico seems to contradict his and his girlfriend's claim that they did not want to give a drug addict control of so much money. However, no charges have yet been filed.
The judge also ordered the couple to appear in court next week. They say it's gone, and Bobbitt claims it was stolen.
A judge has ordered the couple to give Bobbitt all money raised - but there's none left, according to a lawyer for the homeless man.
The campaign benefiting Bobbitt - which raised more than $400,000 from roughly 14,000 people - began accepting donations almost 10 months ago. Counsel for Bobbitt did not respond to a request for comment.
In court Wednesday, the couple's lawyer said Bobbitt has gotten about $200,000.
Police also seized a BMW from the couple's property. "They raised this money to help Johnny Bobbitt get money for food".
A screenshot of the texts was first posted on Reddit and verified by Bobbitt's attorney on Friday.
"GoFundMe has given $US20,000 to a bank account created by Johnny's legal team to provide assistance during the investigation", Whithorne said.