It’s a feel-good story gone horribly wrong: a couple and a homeless vet connected over a gesture of generosity — and now they are embroiled in a legal battle over money.
GoFundMe and the law firm representing Johnny Bobbitt say he will receive all the money raised for him.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that GoFundMe and lawyer Cozen O'Connor issued a joint statement Thursday saying that Bobbitt will get an amount equal to the balance he did not receive through the fundraiser.
"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," the statement read, adding that the platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee. "[This] means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement, or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors and beneficiaries are protected. We're fulfilling that commitment today and we will continue to work with Johnny's team to make sure he's receiving all donated amounts."
Authorities executed a search warrant earlier Thursday at the home of Mark D'Amico and Katelyn McClure of New Jersey who raised $400,000 online for Bobbitt. He is suing them for mismanaging the cash. Bobbitt's lawyer says he's been told the money is gone.
Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina confirmed the criminal investigation because of the "enormous public interest" in the case.
No charges have been filed. McClure and D'Amico have denied wrongdoing.
Last November, McClure ran out of gas on Interstate 95 in New Jersey. It was past midnight and the highway was deserted. But Bobbitt came to her aid.
With his last $20, the homeless Good Samaritan walked to a gas station to get her some fuel. As a token of appreciation, McClure D’Amico created a GoFundMe campaign to repay Bobbitt for his selflessness.
“I wish that I could do more for this selfless man, who went out of his way just to help me that day,” McClure wrote at the time. “Truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break. Hopefully with your help I can be the one to give it to him.”
Together the couple raised $400,000 in the fundraising campaign, which she'd dubbed “Paying It Forward,” from people who were touched by the story and wanted to help Bobbitt.
A lawyer for McClure and D'Amico says Bobbitt had stolen from the couple, even though they'd already given him $200,000.
They claimed they were reluctant to give him the full sum for fear he would spend it on drugs, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Bobbitt’s lawyer maintains he'd only received about $75,000.
Bobbitt is preparing to enter a 28-day residential detoxification program for addiction treatment, the Inquirer reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
[Photo: Getty Images]