Hours after authorities hauled away a New Jersey couple's BMW allegedly bought with donations that were supposed to help a homeless veteran get off the street, the online fundraising company GoFundMe announced that there would be a six-figure happy ending for Johnny Bobbitt.
"As of this time, there have been no charges filed", Burlington County Prosecutor Scott A. Coffina said in a statement on Thursday. "Further updates will be provided as circumstances warrant".
It was the latest twist in a onetime feel-good story about Johnny Bobbitt, who spent his last $20 to buy gas for McClure when she became stranded on a highway in Philadelphia past year, and the couple who found 14,000 people online who were so touched by his kindness that they donated to a fund to help him start a new life. They said he stole from them and pawned some of their possessions for cash to feed his drug habit, allegations he denies. Bobbitt's lawyer says he's been told the money is gone.
Johnny Bobbitt famously came to the rescue of 28-year-old Kate McClure when her auto stalled on a highway ramp last October, using his last $20 to pay for gas. McClure and partner Mark D'Amico then set up a fundraiser alongside her partner out of gratitude.
The couple immediately set up an account for Bobbitt and deposited $25,000 in it, which he spent in 13 days, most of it on drugs, they said.
The viral feel-good story began to deteriorate last month after Bobbitt's attorney, Chris Fallon, accused the couple of withholding a large portion of the funds from his client. D'Amico said he kept $US200,000 - the amount that remained after paying for the camper, SUV and other expenses - in a savings account that he would gladly turn over to Bobbitt once the vet kicked an addiction to opioids and managed to hold down a job.
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Meanwhile, GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne said his company is collaborating with law enforcement in order to get Bobbitt back the money raised in his name, USA Today reports.
On Aug. 30, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Paula Dow ordered the couple to return the remainder of the funds to Bobbitt's attorneys after Bobbitt requested a temporary restraining order that would bar the couple from spending any more of it.
Bobbitt - reportedly a military veteran struggling with substance abuse problems - filed suit against the couple, claiming they used the money from the GoFundMe campaign as a "personal piggy bank" to "fund a lifestyle they could not otherwise afford", according to The Associated Press. The couple has never provided reporters with financial documentation proving their claims.
"If they flee, they're taking the money with them", Jacqueline Promislo, one of Bobbitt's attorneys, told the Inquirer.
The judge said that what happened to some of the funds "lacks clarity" and that she needed to hear from the couple themselves.
The 35-year-old Bobbitt said the couple raised $400,000 for him, but he's only received about $75,000, a camper and a 19-year-old pickup truck.
The story initially led to appearances for Bobbitt and McClure on national TV programs as well as an interview by the BBC.