The Johnny Bobbitt saga: From feel-good story to money mystery
What started out as an effort to help a homeless man who did a good deed has become a criminal investigation into what happened to the $400,000 in donations raised to help him get back on his feet.
When Johnny Bobbitt Jr., a homeless veteran who has battled drug addiction, gave his last $20 to help a stranded motorist, the woman and her boyfriend launched a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $400,000 for him.
But what started as a feel-good story has slammed up against the harsh reality of a fight over money that that Bobbitt says his would-be benefactors squandered. Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico are now the subjects of a criminal investigation by the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office,
Here is a timeline of the Johnny Bobbitt saga:
October 2017: On a trip into Philadelphia from her South Jersey home late at night, Kate McClure, 27, a New Jersey Transportation Department receptionist, runs out of gas on I-95 in the Port Richmond section. Bobbitt, 34, a Marine veteran originally from North Carolina, who has been living on the streets of Philadelphia for a year and a half, buys her gas with his last $20. She promises to repay him the next day, and does.
Nov. 10, 2017: After McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D'Amico, a carpenter, visit Bobbitt several times, giving him clothes and money, and learning his story, including his fight with drug addiction, they launch a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $10,000 to help him. "With the money, I would like to get him first and last month's rent at an apartment, a reliable vehicle, and 4-6 months worth of expenses," McClure writes. "He is very interested in finding a job, and I believe that with a place to be able to clean up every night and get a good night's rest, his life can get back to being normal."
Nov. 15, 2017: The Burlington County Times publishes a story on the GoFundMe drive and Bobbitt's good deed. It goes viral.
Nov. 24, 2017: By the day after Thanksgiving, the fund has raised more than $300,000 from 11,000 donors.
Nov. 25, 2017: D'Amico says Bobbitt plans on donating a large portion of the money "to causes that are close to his heart." He says that Bobbitt spent Thanksgiving in a hotel, and that the couple gave him money for contact lenses and took him to a Walmart, where he bought a computer.
Nov. 26, 2017: Bobbitt and McClure appear together on Good Morning America.
Dec. 8, 2017: The fund surpasses $400,000 and no more donations are accepted.
Dec. 10, 2017: In an interview with the Inquirer and Daily News, Bobbitt says he believes he now has a future. "Three weeks ago … I was homeless on the streets of Philadelphia. I really didn't have any hope, didn't know what my future was," he says.
April 13, 2018: The Inquirer and Daily News report that Bobbitt, now living in a new camper in Burlington County, is still struggling with an addiction to opioids and is in his second recent stint in rehab. He is jobless, and a truck he bought with money from the fund is idle and in need of repair.
Aug. 23, 2018: The Inquirer and Daily News report that Bobbitt is homeless again and cut off from the fund. McClure and D'Amico say they've spent or given him more than half of the money. Bobbitt says he fears that the couple squandered much of the money on such things as a BMW and vacations to California, Florida, and Las Vegas.
Aug. 27, 2018: In an interview on Megyn Kelly Today, McClure and D'Amico say they will open the books to show how much of the $400,000 in donations remains and where the rest was spent.
Aug. 28, 2018: A law firm representing Bobbitt pro bono goes to court in Burlington County against McClure and D'Amico, seeking an injunction and monetary relief.
Aug. 30, 2018: Superior Court Judge Paula T. Dow gives McClure and D'Amico 24 hours to transfer the money into an escrow account and 10 days to hire a forensic accountant to review the financial records. The deadline passes without any funds being transferred.
Sept. 4, 2018: Chris Fallon, a lawyer for Bobbitt, says he learned the money is missing during a conference call with lawyers for McClure and D'Amico.
Sept 5, 2018: Judge Dow orders McClure and D'Amico to testify under oath next week about what happened to the money. Their lawyer, Ernest E. Badway, tells the court the couple want invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Sept. 6, 2018: The Burlington County Prosecutor's Office obtains and executes search warrant at the home shared by McClure and D'Amico in Florence Township. Hours later, GoFundMe announces it will pay Bobbitt any money he did not receive from the original $400,000.
Sept. 7, 2018: A Burlington County judge temporarily halts a civil lawsuit filed against McClure and D'Amico amid a criminal probe into what happened to the funds. Judge Paula T. Dow issued a 90-day stay.
Sept. 10, 2018: Badway, the attorney representing McClure and D'Amico in the civil suit, says in a court filing that he may not be able to represent the couple because one or both of them "will likely be indicted." D'Amico is arrested on a warrant for failing to appear municipal court for minor traffic offenses.
Sept. 18. 2018: After reporting to court for the traffic offenses, D'Amico says he looks forward to explaining what happened to the money, saying it would become "crystal clear" how the funds spent. The court hearing, in the meantime, is postponed until Oct.8.
Nov. 15, 2018: Bobbitt, McClure, and D'Amico are charged with conspiracy offenses, as prosecutors say the trio made up the feel-good story in scam to entice people to donate money.