Johnny Bobbitt was a homeless veteran on the streets of Philadelphia this past November when he used his last $20 to help Katie McClure get gas after she was stranded on the side of the road. The story attracted widespread media attention and McClure and her boyfriend Mark D’Amico started a GoFundMe page and collected over $400,000 from more than 14,000 donors.
Bobbitt claims he has not seen most of the money and sued the people he once thought were trying to help him.
In a charming 1796 New Jersey courtroom, Bobbitt’s attorney Christopher C. Fallon stood before Judge Paula T. Dow alongside the rest of Bobbitt’s pro bono attorneys from Cozen O’Conner fighting for a temporary restraining order in the complaint they filed Aug. 28.
According to Fallon, Bobbitt has only seen about $75,000 of the $400,000 raised, and McClure and D’Amico had promised his client a home, a truck and two trusts in his name.
McClure and D’Amico’s attorney Ernest Badway, who has been representing the couple for less than 24 hours, told Dow the case is not a matter of injunction, but damages.
Badway said Bobbitt was given a camper and a truck, both under the couple’s names, and $200,000 – far more than the $75,000 Bobbitt says he’s received.
“The idea that my clients are the bad guys is completely not true,” Badway told Dow, adding his clients have received death threats and some donors have demanded refunds.
D’Amico has said in interviews he is wary about giving Bobbitt any more money, fearing he will use it on drugs. Fallon told Dow Bobbitt is currently in a rehabilitation program.
From the bench, Dow issued a temporary restraining order. She found Bobbitt could suffer harm because he’s still living on the streets, and noted the couple was keeping some of the money in their personal bank accounts.
She ordered the couple to transfer the balance of the donations to Bobbitt’s lawyers within 24 hours. Badway fought back, noting the upcoming Labor Day weekend.
Dow noted banks are still open Friday and Saturday, and that if they don’t have the funds in the bank they can “pull it out of pillowcases”.
After the court was adjourned, Badway quickly made his way to his car with reporters’ pens and cameras trailing closely behind, refusing to comment. Fallon, however, spoke to a handful of reporters outside the courthouse to address Bobbitt’s claim the couple was using the money as “their personal piggy bank.”
“If they spent any of the money on themselves, we want reimbursement,” Fallon said. He also praised Dow’s decision and thanked the 14,000 people who donated to his client.
Dow scheduled a preliminary injunction hearing for Sept 14.