A homeless man who received $400,000 (£307,000) from online wellwishers after helping a woman in distress, is taking legal action against the couple who launched the fundraiser.
Johnny Bobbitt became a viral sensation in October last year when he used his last $20 to buy petrol for Kate McClure, who was stranded after running out of fuel on a motorway exit ramp near Philadelphia.
The military veteran, who had been sleeping rough underneath the ramp, offered to walk to the nearest petrol station and buy her enough fuel to continue her journey.
A grateful McClure and her husband, Mark D’Amico, set up an online fundraising page publicising Bobbitt’s good deed and inviting wellwishers to donate to help him get off the streets.
The moving story went viral on social media, where more than 14,000 users eventually contributed around $400,000 to the GoFundMe page set up on his behalf.
However, less than a year later, Bobbitt says he is back on the streets after McClure and D’Amico failed to hand over the funds they raised for him.
The 35-year-old had been living in a camper van parked on their property, but he was asked to leave as tensions rose.
Documents filed in a court in the couple’s hometown of Mount Holly, New Jersey “contend the couple committed fraud and conspiracy by taking for their personal use a ‘substantial portions of the money raised’”, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Bobbitt accuses D’Amico of spending donated money on online gambling.
For their part, McClure and D’Amico deny wrongdoing and say that Bobbitt has already accessed around half the donated money, but they are now reluctant to give him any more large sums.
“Every dollar he ever touched was used for drugs,” D’Amico told NBC’s Megyn Kelly.
He claims Bobbitt “spent $25,000 in ‘less than two weeks’ last year on drugs, paying bills, and sending money to his family,” the Daily Beast reports.
D’Amico said that more than $150,000 of the money remains in their account, and they are “absolutely” willing to have an accountant examine their financial records.
A pro bono legal team representing Bobbitt are seeking an injunction preventing the couple from spending any of the remaining funds, as well as compensatory damages.