Judge orders US couple to hand crowdfunding money over to homeless veteran

A US judge has ordered a couple to hand over the money they raised for a homeless man through a crowdfunding initiative.

Kate McClure, 28, and her boyfriend Mark D’Amico, 39 have until Friday afternoon to transfer over the remains of the $400,000 (£307,000) they raised. 

The couple started the crowdfunding attempt when homeless veteran Johnny Bobbit came to Ms McClure’s aid when she ran out of petrol on a motorway.

But Mr Bobbitt’s lawyers claimed the couple had refused to hand over the majority of the funds to the homeless veteran.

On Thursday,  the judge presiding over the case in New Jersey ruled that the remaining cash should be placed in an account controlled by Mr Bobbitt’s lawyers and frozen pending a new court ruling.

The couple deny Mr Bobbitt’s claim they spent the money on themselves.

The former marine’s tale went viral last year when the couple launched an online appeal to thank Mr Bobbitt for giving his last $20 (£15) to Ms McClure after her car ran out of petrol.

The overwhelming response led to donations from more than 14,000 well wishers, but the couple’s relationship with Mr Bobbitt eventually soured as they accused him of using the money to feed a drug habit.

Judge Paula T Dow has now ordered the couple to transfer the money into an account and hire a forensic accountant to review financial records within 10 days, local media reported.

Judge Dow said the court would decide how the money would eventually be managed.

Jacqueline Promislo, Mr Bobbitt’s lawyer, has said she estimates the couple spent about $75,000 on his care. 

Mr D’Amico recently told US media around $150,000 of the fund remains.

Mr Bobbitt’s legal representatives have claimed the couple spent remaining cash to "fund a lifestyle that they could not otherwise afford".

For their part, the couple allege the marine veteran had once spent $25,000 of his new wealth on drugs in a single fortnight.