Cherry Hill Courier-Post
Published 10:40 AM EDT Sep 7, 2018
FLORENCE, N.J. – While the legal battle continues over nearly a half-million dollars in online donations for a homeless Samaritan, the crowdfunding platform that hosted the campaign is vowing the Philadelphia man will get his money.
GoFundMe, the online site used to raise the money, has made a commitment to see that homeless veteran John Bobbitt Jr. gets all of the $402,000 raised last year to help him.
“We are pleased to report that 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," the online fundraising company announced Thursday night in a joint statement with Cozen O’Connor, the law firm representing Bobbitt in a civil lawsuit filed only last week in an effort to retrieve all of the funds.
"GoFundMe’s goal has always been to ensure Johnny gets the support he deserves."
Sept. 6: Court orders deposition for couple who raised $400K for homeless man
The promise comes on the same day investigators descended on the New Jersey home of the couple who kicked off the viral campaign last year.
On Thursday morning, Burlington County, New Jersey, law enforcement authorities executed a search warrant at the Florence, New Jersey, home of Katelyn McClure and Mark D'Amico, the couple who raised the money after Bobbitt helped her when she was stranded last fall in Philadelphia.
"We’ll continue to assist with the ongoing law enforcement investigation," the GoFundMe statement continued.
"As we’ve said, our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which 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."
Law enforcement officials offered little information about the criminal investigation.
Burlington County Prosecutor Scott A. Coffina confirmed in a brief statement that investigators from his office worked with Florence Township police in executing the search warrant, "in connection with a criminal investigation," into the case.
"As of this time, there have been no charges filed," Coffina said in the statement Thursday morning. "Further updates will be provided as circumstances warrant."
Bobbitt, a homeless veteran from Philadelphia, has sued McClure and D'Amico to recover much of the $402,000 they solicited through an online crowdfunding campaign late last year.
Sept. 4: $400K raised for homeless man on GoFundMe is gone, attorney says
Earlier this week, Bobbitt's attorney said he learned all of the money is gone. He could not be reached for comment Thursday on the criminal investigation development.
Bobbitt met McClure in November when she ran out of gas on an exit ramp of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia. The homeless man used his last $20 to walk to a station to buy her gas.
McClure and D'Amico took him food and gifts, and later started the online fundraiser for Bobbitt that eventually went viral as news of his good deed spread.
More than 14,000 people contributed to the campaign.
It's not yet clear what police were looking for at the couple's home, but a local TV reporter posted video of a BMW in the driveway being loaded onto a truck and investigators were seen removing boxes of materials from the property. The couple was home at the time of the search.
A "no trespassing" sign was posted Thursday on the edge of the property.
In Superior Court on Wednesday, Judge Paula T. Dow ordered the couple to provide to the court by Friday afternoon documentation on how much of the donations has been spent, how it was used and what remains.
Aug. 31: Judge orders couple to give money from GoFundMe campaign to homeless man
The judge also directed the couple to give sworn statements in legal depositions Monday about their handling of the money, some of which the couple's defense lawyer Ernest Badway confirmed was co-mingled with his clients' personal funds.
Badway indicated in court Wednesday that his clients intend to invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refuse to give testimony about where the money went.
Badway did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
It's unclear whether the criminal probe will impact the judge's civil court orders.
McClure and D'Amico have claimed they spent roughly $200,000 on Bobbitt by buying him a trailer and a used vehicle, and providing him with living expense money that he partly used to buy drugs and to give away to family.
Bobbitt claims he received only $75,000 in cash and the value of the truck and camper.
Chris Fallon, Bobbitt's attorney, admitted his client suffers from drug addiction and is now in a rehabilitation facility.
Aug. 25: Homeless again, man fears he'll never get most of the $400k from a GoFundMe in his honor
The camper had been parked on land that McClure’s family owns, but Bobbitt said he became homeless again after D’Amico told him in June that he had to leave the property.
In court last week, Bobbitt’s attorney said there was more than $150,000 in donations left, but Fallon said he learned in a subsequent phone conversation with Badway that the money was gone.
A GoFundMe spokesman said the company is working with law enforcement to ensure Bobbitt gets all the money he is due. The company said it also put $20,000 in an account set up by his attorney to aid in his investigation.
Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Carol Comegno on Twitter: @CarolComegno