A growing problem
The couple in question
To truly understand this story, we need to know a little more about the couple in question. Who are they? Why did the homeless man ultimately sue them after they raised so much money for them? Hailing from New Jersey, Katie McClure and Mark D’Amico were just like any other ordinary couple. Katie works for the government as a receptionist, and Mark spends his time working as a carpenter. Yet, their lives changed completely when they met Johnny Bobbitt, and they soon found themselves in a very public legal battle.
The man in question
At just 35 years old, Johnny Bobbitt was living on the streets. He didn’t have a job, he didn’t have a roof over his head, and he had very little money to his name. He was sleeping rough every single night and trying to maintain a positive outlook on life even though he was struggling. Despite his unfortunate circumstances, Johnny always tried to be there for others. It was this trait that led him Katie and Mark, and a storyline that would grace newspapers and news stations across the world…
The day it happened
This story takes place in November 2017. The nights were cold, and Johnny was trying to make ends meet on the streets. At the same time, Katie had driven to the local gas station to fill up her tank in order to get back to her warm home and her boyfriend. As she made her way to the cashier clerk to pay, she soon realized that she didn’t have any money on her. She was stuck. Johnny Bobbitt saw the whole ordeal as it unfolded. It was then that he decided to sacrifice his last $20 to the woman.
Couldn’t repay him
Katie didn’t know what to say. She was overwhelmed that someone would do such a thing for her, let alone a man who clearly didn’t have a home or any food of his own. Although she didn’t have the money to pay him back straight away, she soon sought him out soon after to thank him and repay his generous favor. As she learned more and more about him, they became close. She would often return to his spot on the street with food and water, to make sure that he was as comfortable as possible.
In fact, Katie and Mark were so taken by Johnny’s kindness that they decided to do something about his predicament. They wanted to raise money for him so he could get off the streets and make a real life for himself. So, they created a GoFundMe page and asked those nearest and dearest to them to reach into their pockets and help the man who had helped them when they needed it. They initially set off with a goal of $10,000, but they had no idea how this plan would turn out…
An amazing reaction
Before the couple knew what was happening, their story was going viral. People around the world heard of Johnny’s selfless act, and they wanted to help him. As the weeks went by the number of donations skyrocketed and they had soon surpassed their goal. Over the course of nine months, in fact, the couple managed to raise just over $400,000 for Johnny, thanks to their fans from across the globe. Yet, they soon realized that there was a slight problem with their plan.
Keeping it to themselves
Because of his situation, Johnny did not have his own bank account or any documents to get one in the first place. This meant that the couple could not deposit the money that had been raised for him by generous donors. They scratched their heads and tried to work out how to get around this problem, and soon realized that there was only one thing to do. While they sorted out Johnny’s documents, they would keep hold of the money in their own bank account for the time being.
A man with a dream
With the money in their bank account, Katie and Mark started discussing Johnny’s hopes and dreams with him. What was he going to do with the money? How did he want to spend it? It was during these discussions that Johnny spoke of a simpler life. He didn’t want to buy a home but instead wanted to buy a trailer so he could move to Alaska and live off the land. He didn’t want anything fancy but wanted to fish and be able to sleep somewhere warm each night.
Giving him a chance
Katie and Mark knew that there was only one thing that they could do. They took Johnny to the local dealership and allowed him to pick out his very own trailer. The homeless man was over the moon to have something that truly belonged to him, but there was one issue – where was he going to park it? The couple had a solution to this and ultimately allowed Johnny to park the trailer on their property and use any of the facilities in their home. They wanted to give him a chance.
The first deposit
After a couple of weeks, the documents had finally been processed, and Johnny was able to access his very own bank account. With a means to now pay him, the couple deposited an initial $25,000 into the account for him to use. They were happy to do so as it was his money, but they soon started to feel uneasy. After just 13 days, the $25,000 had disappeared, and it seemed as though Johnny had spent it all. But what had he spent that kind of money on?
Wasting it away
Katie and Mark soon discovered that Johnny had supposedly spent his small fortune on illicit substances. He had wasted the money away in under two weeks, and they weren’t happy with that. They wanted him to use this money to make his life better and get off the streets – not to fund a devastating habit. Although they tried to persuade Johnny to check into rehab and turn his life around, he refused their offer. Because of this, Katie and Mark didn’t know what to do about the money.
Katie and Mark didn’t want the money going to waste, so they began to question whether they should give it to him at all. This upset Johnny, who believed that the couple were intentionally withholding the money from him. In his eyes, the money was rightfully his, and he should have had the power to do whatever he wanted with it. It was raised for him, after all. The fact that they were keeping it from him just made him angry, especially because things weren’t as they seemed…
Keeping it for themselves
In fact, Johnny was convinced that the couple were embezzling the money raised for him on GoFundMe into their own lavish lifestyles. Although they were already blessed with high-paying jobs and a beautiful home, the couple seemed to go up in the world while they were conversing with Johnny. They were able to go on two expensive vacations, and they even bought themselves a brand new BMW car. Johnny couldn’t help but think that this was a little suspicious and wondered whether they were using his money.
Johnny ultimately decided to question the couple about this money, and whether they really were using his money to fund this new lifestyle of theirs. However, they vehemently denied these claims. They confirmed that they had spent $200,000 on the homeless man since they raised all of the money. They had paid for his stay in a hotel, the trailer, cell phones, a laptop, the initial $25,000 sum that went into his bank account and more. According to them, they could track every purchase they had made.
Taking a cut
However, Johnny still wasn’t convinced. After GoFundMe took their $30,000 cut from the money raised, he was only left with $150,000. He couldn’t believe that he had been left with such a small portion of the money and believed that Mark and Katie had tampered with the generous donations of people around the world. Because of this, he decided that he needed a bit of extra help. With the help of a lawyer, he made the decision to sue Katie and Mark for their role in his situation.
In fact, Johnny ultimately got GoFundMe themselves on his side. He had got into contact with the website and explained his ordeal to them, and they wanted to help him reach a valid conclusion. They were able to get in touch with a lawyer who offered to work pro bono for the homeless man, and they eventually worked on their mission to prove that his money had been mismanaged by the couple. He wanted justice, and he wanted to prove that Katie and Mark had not been as generous as first thought.
Faithful and honest
As soon as the couple heard that Johnny was taking them to court, they were shocked and astounded. In their eyes, they had done nothing wrong. They simply wanted to help a man who had little to his name, but a few problems got in their way. They maintained that they had been faithful and honest throughout the ordeal, and they were even willing to let investigators track the money and their expenditure to prove that they had not been sneaky in any way. Would this check out?
Starting with good intentions
Of course, Johnny was working against the couple and trying to prove that they had played a part in the wrongdoing – but he doesn’t believe that they set out with these bad intentions. In fact, he believes that Katie and her boyfriend really did want to help him. They wanted to raise money for the man who had helped Katie out of a sticky situation, and they were over the moon with the response. However, Johnny believes the money soon had an effect on them, and they became greedy as the zeros piled up.
Taken to court
Towards the end of August 2018, Johnny and his legal team eventually took Katie and Mark to court. They pleaded their case that they didn’t embezzle the money or keep it for themselves – but the judge had ruled against them. Although they were not charged with any misdemeanor, the judge ordered the couple to hand over the money that they owed the formerly homeless man, where it will be kept in a controlled account by his lawyers for when he needs it.
An incredible story
Now that Johnny has found closure, he can continue with his life and live off the money that people so generously donated to him. While he needs proper authorization to retract this money from his bank account, he is intent on making a better life for himself. He will be able to keep a roof over his head, he will be able to put food on the table, and he will be able to take himself off the streets – hopefully for good. He’s now trying to forget the ordeal that Katie and Mark put him through.
Of course, we do feel compelled to note that the “ordeal” that Katie and Mark put Johnny is very much in his head. It’s always possible that they mismanaged the money that should’ve been given to him. And it makes sense that he might be a little muffed by that. But we should be clear about something. If it wasn’t for the proactivity of Katie and Mark, the money wouldn’t have been there in the first place!
Social media networking
There’s also the fact that Katie and Mark are members of the social media community, with solid networks of people. If it wasn’t for the campaign that they started, and their devoted network of friends on social media, people around the world never would’ve been able to donate the money at all. It seems that Johnny might’ve gotten a little ahead of himself with “blaming” Katie and Mark. Where is the gratitude that they are owed?
There also seems to be a little bit of a debate regarding how much money they actually gave Johnny. He claims that they only gave him around $75,000, but they’ve gone on record to say that they actually gave him $200,000. There seems to be a lot of murky storylines at play, and it’s not easy for everyone to know exactly what happened. However, there is yet another element of this story we have not yet mentioned.
What they really deserved
After Katie and Johnny were gracious enough to start the GoFundMe account for Johnny, along with all of the other things they did for him, why didn’t Johnny feel like they deserved a little bit of the money? We’re not saying that the couple took the money for themselves, but it certainly would’ve been nice for Johnny to offer some of it to them anyway. He said himself that he was only looking to live a simple life and get on his feet – so why not return the favor?
There’s also a slight elephant in the room that we haven’t been mentioning. We are, of course, referring to the fact that Johnny allegedly used the first $25,000 on illicit substances. The 14,000 generous people around the world who made the conscious choice to pay Johnny that money didn’t do it so that he could squander it on things that wouldn’t improve his life. They did it so that he could get his matters in order and live comfortably.
The perfect analogy
Johnny and his lawyers’ position is that the GoFundMe population chose to give the money to him, and therefore it legally belongs to him. But where does the moral high ground lie when he’s not using the money the way they initially intended? In many ways, it doesn’t feel right at all. It’s kind of like when you choose to give five dollars to a homeless, but only under the condition that he spends it on food, and nothing else unsavory.
An interesting text
With all of the craziness going on, Mark sent Johnny a text with an offer. He proposed that everyone gets rid of their lawyers, and he writes Johnny a check. A check with all the money that is still left out of the account. He reasoned with Johnny that after all of the court proceedings, he won’t be left with anything – which is exactly what he wanted to avoid. Mark also told Johnny that he didn’t want to “bad mouth” him, and the court proceedings were making him do that.
Kicking him out
It’s also interesting to note the fact that Johnny had literally been living in a camper on property that the McClure family owned. But in June, they told Johnny he had to live. It seemed as if money was turning this whole story upside down. After Johnny was forced to leave the McClure’s property, he ended up on the streets once more, battling with addictions once more. How could things change for him so quickly?
Money, money, money
Perhaps something we can learn from this story is that people are serious when they say that money is the root of all evil. It’s safe to say that the people in this story seem like good people, with much love in their heart. That much is clear from all the awesome things that were accomplished throughout their story. So how did things grow so south, and so quickly? Why did Johnny have to ruin everything by suing the ones who had helped him out?
What started off as a touching story, one that could inspire people around the world, was turning into something that gave people a bad taste in their mouth. And the thing is, it seems like the McClure couple didn’t want it to reach this point. They only wanted to help Johnny out of a rut that he’d been stuck in. It’s possible that they weren’t perfect along the way, but in their case, the positives truly outweigh the negatives.
As it turns out, the law doesn’t seem to be on Katie and Mark’s side, but on Johnny’s. In fact, in early September 2018, the police actually raided the couple’s home with a signed search warrant from a judge. They recovered the expensive sports cars, and even had them towed away. As the story develops more and more is discovered about the couple and their intentions with the money they raised as “good Samaritans” for Bobbitt.