Authorities Execute Search Warrant at New Jersey Home of Couple Accused in Homeless GoFundMe Case

Authorities in New Jersey have executed a search warrant on the home of a couple accused of withholding hundreds of thousands of dollars for a homeless Good Samaritan.

Fox29 on Sept. 6 reported that officials were at their home in Bordentown early in the morning, a day after a judge ordered them to appear in court.

Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico of New Jersey started the fundraising account on GoFundMe that ended up raising more than $400,000 for John Bobbitt, a homeless man living on the streets of Philadelphia.

The couple launched the fundraiser after Bobbitt used his last $20 to buy gas for McClure when he saw her stranded on the side of I-95.

But the homeless man, a veteran, sued the couple over what he alleged is missing cash from the GoFundMe. Bobbitt said he’s only received $75,000 of the $400,000 raised.

Funds ‘Gone’

Bobbit’s attorney, Chris Fallon, said he found out in a conference call with the couple’s lawyer on Sept. 4 that all of the money raised in Bobbit’s name is gone, according to ABC.

He accused McClure and D’Amico of buying a BMW, and taking multiple vacations.

“I always felt like I was in a weird situation,” Bobbitt told ABC. “I didn’t want to be pressuring to get a lawyer or do anything because I didn’t want to seem ungrateful.”

“I wish it didn’t come to this,” he added. “I hate that it came to this.”

McClure and D’Amico have claimed they’ve given Bobbitt half of the $400,000 while Bobbitt says he’s only received $75,000.

The New Jersey couple claimed at one point that they were holding back some of the money because Bobbitt was blowing funds on drugs.

NTD Photo
This photo taken Aug. 15, 2018, shows Johnny Bobbitt Jr. (David Swanson /The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Judge Issues Order

Judge Paula Dow gave the lawyer for the New Jersey couple an order on Wednesday, Sept. 5: His clients must appear in court. Dow said that she wanted to see the defendants for herself and ask them directly questions about the case.

Dow said the couple must give depositions about where the money that they raised for Bobbitt went, reported WPVI. Dow said the couple and Bobbitt must compile paperwork that showed the money trail on both sides.

Ernest Badway, the attorney for McClure and D’Amico, had tried to persuade the judge that his clients wanted to utilize the Fifth Amendment, which protects against self-incrimination.

“You should advise your clients that they are directed by the court to appear, and they can assert their privileges at that time,” Judge Dow replied. “I am no longer comfortable with counsel representing what their clients purport to say, when I have no certifications from the clients, no appearances by the clients, and a record that before me lacks clarity at times as to what happened with the funds.”

Experts Weigh In

Rutgers University professor Perry Dane, who teaches charities and non-profit organization law, told NJ.com that the fundraiser falls under nonprofit laws because the couple was serving as a trust.

If you set up a trust for someone’s benefit, there are restrictions on how the money is used, he said. “You can’t just abscond with the funds,” he said.

Roseanne Mirabella, a Seton Hall University professor, added that it’s clearly illegal to use funds that were gathered for one purpose for another purpose.

“If a charity collected money through GoFundMe and then did not expend it as they said they would in the solicitation, that would be illegal,” she said.

“And if they spent the money on a vacation to the Caribbean, that would also be illegal.”

The conditions for use on GoFundMe prohibits campaigns that are “fradulent, misleading, and inaccurate.”