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August 30, 2018

Viral GoFundMe campaign for homeless man devolves into court battle

Formerly homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt and good Samaritans Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico due in New Jersey courtroom on Thursday

Lawsuits GoFundMe
Kate McClure Johnny Kate McClure/GoFundMe

Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt, the homeless man who helped her after she got stranded on I-95 in Philadelphia. McClure started a crowdfunding effort that raised more than $400,000 to help the veteran get back on his feet. But now much of the money is reporting missing.

Update, 8/30/18, 6:33 p.m. ET: A judge ordered the couple Thursday to turn over the remaining money to their defense lawyer, who was directed to place it in a trust fund, the Cherry Hill Courier-Post reports.

Last Thanksgiving's viral, heartwarming story of a homeless man's good deed, and the $400,000 of GoFundMe money raised in his honor, has taken an ugly turn that will be displayed for all to see in a Burlington County courtroom on Thursday.

The story gained attention across the globe when Johnny Bobbitt, a homeless veteran, helped Burlington County resident Kate McClure after her car ran out of gas leaving her stranded on I-95 in Philadelphia. Spending his last $20 to buy gas for McClure, she and her boyfriend, Mark D'Amico, set up a GoFundMe to thank Bobbitt and help get him off the streets.

RELATED: How easy is it to use a viral crowdfunding campaign to steal people's money?

The goal to raise $10,000 was vastly surpassed, with 14,000 donors raising $400,000 in just a few weeks. Nine months later, however, Bobbitt is now at odds with the couple as a legal battle awaits over the dispersal of the funds. reported Bobbitt will face McClure and D'Amico in court Thursday. The couple has been accused of pocketing thousands of dollars from the funds raised, leading to death threats and attacks on the couple. During an appearance on NBC News' Megyn Kelly TODAY earlier this week, the couple denied these allegations and said that Bobbitt had returned to the drug habit that first led to his homelessness. They told Kelly the couple had been shielding the funds in his best interest until he could recover.

Bobbitt told last week that the couple was only giving him small amounts of the money at a time. In the article, Bobbitt suggested the couple had used the funds to go on vacation and buy a new car. 

He also admitted to using drugs again. 

The couple said they first held on to the money because Bobbitt did not have an ID to claim the funds, or a bank account to deposit the funds in. As they got the paperwork together to open an account for him, they purchased him a trailer, at his request, and let him live in it on their property in Burlington County.

According to McClure and D'Amico, Bobbitt burned through the first $25,000 he was given in just 13 days, spending all the money on drugs. The couple have since withheld the other funds.

A new lawsuit filed by Bobbitt's lawyers alleges McClure and D'Amico failed to create a formal trust, have spent more than half the money, and "have considered the foregoing GoFundMe account as their personal piggy bank to fund a lifestyle that they could not otherwise afford."

The suit requests the couple stops using the GoFundMe money and give it to Bobbitt. The lawsuit also asks that McClure and D'Amico show an accounting history, provide damage fees with interest, and pay for legal fees.

A court hearing will take place Thursday at the Olde Historic Courthouse in Burlington County.