Editor’s Note: On Nov. 15, 2018, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office announced that the three central figures in this story had been arrested and charged with second-degree theft by deception and other offenses. Prosecutors concluded that their dramatic tale of rescue and redemption had been “completely made up.” Story detailing the findings can be found here.
The lawyer for a Burlington County couple accused of mishandling a $400,000 GoFundMe account for a homeless Johnny Bobbitt Jr. may not be able to represent the couple because one or both of them “will likely be indicted,” according to court documents released Monday.
Ernest E. Badway, an attorney with Fox Rothschild who represents Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico in a civil lawsuit filed by Bobbitt last month, wrote in a motion filed Friday in Burlington County Superior Court that he and his firm were not asking to come off the case "at this time, we merely want to make the court aware of the potential future development."
Badway also wrote in the motion that D'Amico and McClure are "unable to defend themselves or respond in any meaningful way" to requests for financial statements made by Bobbitt's lawyers because the couple no longer had access to the records.
"Additionally, 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," the filing states.
The motion did not elaborate on why the firm could not continue to represent McClure and D'Amico in the civil case if there is an indictment.
Badway did not comment when contacted Monday. A spokesperson for Fox Rothschild said the firm had no comment.
Last fall, McClure, 28, and D'Amico, 39, started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $10,000 to help Bobbitt, a onetime Marine, get a home after he used his last $20 to help McClure when she ran out of gas on I-95 and was stranded near Kensington where Bobbitt had been panhandling. The story quickly turned viral as more than 14,000 people donated more than $400,000.
Last month, Bobbitt, 35, was panhandling in Philadelphia again after the couple sold a camper they bought for Bobbitt. Bobbitt told an Inquirer and Daily News reporter he feared the couple squandered the donations on shopping sprees, a BMW, vacations, and gambling. They also refused to give him access to the donations, he said.
A judge ordered the couple to turn over the remaining money after Bobbitt sued, but Badway soon disclosed to Bobbitt's attorneys there was nothing left. The judge at the time also ordered the couple to testify at a deposition that had been scheduled for Monday. Last week, investigators from the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office, along with Florence Township police, raided the Florence home the couple share, confiscating paperwork, cash, jewelry, and McClure's BMW.
The search warrant, which was attached to Badway's motion, directed authorities to seize cell phones, computers, receipts, tax returns, and other financial and bank records.
Badway, who had previously said the couple would not testify in civil proceedings and would instead invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, asked that the civil matters be placed on hold. Bobbitt's lawyers did not oppose Badway's request to delay discovery in the civil suit and Judge Paula T. Dow on Friday postponed legal action in that case until Dec. 7.
The couple has not been charged, but authorities have confirmed that they remain under investigation. The prosecutor’s office on Monday said there was “nothing new” in the case.