SOUTH BEND, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has confirmed another non-profit that’s set to receive a $7,000 taxpayer grant, is linked to the non-profit group that was taking and sharing nude photos of the recently deceased. It turns out, the founder of CHOICES for Life South Bend, Aisha Avance, is also the president of Justice for Michiana, the group responsible for taking and sharing the disturbing photos. Avance is also employed as a Democrat Deputy at the St. Joseph County Voter Registration Office. The employee directory has her listed as Aisha Martin.
RNM broke the story about Justice for Michiana and it’s founder, Vernado Malone, more than a week ago. RNM has interviewed several people who saw pictures of full-nude bodies of the recently deceased that were taken at Alford’s Mortuary, in South Bend. You can read that full story here.
RNM spoke to one woman who saw the photographs while working at the Voter Registration Office in the County-City building. She tells us Malone was visiting Avance, whom he calls his sister, when he decided to take out his phone and show the pictures of two nude dead bodies.
“He was bragging about how he was able to get this guy (recently deceased) put back together again and nobody else in the area could.” Trisha Carrico, a former Voter Registration office employee, said.
“He said to me while he was talking to (Aisha Avance), ‘You couldn’t handle seeing this photo.’” Carrico said. “He was talking about a man who killed himself… this man was really badly decayed.”
Carrico says Malone then showed her two photos. One before the victim’s body was worked on, the other one was after.
“It was graphic. In the first picture he was laying on a table… there really wasn’t a whole lot left of him.” She said. “In the second picture he was all dressed up, the funeral home had pretty much put the man back together again.”
Carrico says Malone then asked Avance if he should show her more pictures.
“He said, ‘Hey, should I show her a picture of that guy?’” Carrico said. “(Avance) said ‘Oh Lord.’ Then he was sliding through his phone and showed me another guy.” Carrico explained.
“It was a full nude picture, shot from his feet up. He was laying on top of a sheet. He had been shot in the head.” She said.
Avance’s non-profit, CHOICES for Life South Bend, is one of 50 organizations that received thousands in taxpayer money as part of South Bend’s “Alive Grant” initiative. Choices for Life South Bend received $7,000. Justice for Michiana also received $7,000. The South Bend Tribune wrote a glowing story about the grant initiative and Avance’s non-profit here.
Malone admitted to RNM that he was taking the photos and that members of his board would see them.
“Every photo we have is a consent from the next of kin where we can use that photo in our discretion.” Malone said to RNM. “So, anyone who wants to come on to the board to see different photos to make sure they can handle that type of stuff.”
Malone denied showing the photos to anyone outside of the organization.
RNM’s Clifton French asked Malone, “What purpose does it serve to take nude pictures of the recently deceased?”
“That would be confidential information.” Malone responded.
RNM reached out to Avance for comment. She did not return our messages. She is listed as the President of Justice for Michiana in organization documentation as recently as this month.
According to the city’s website, the “Alive grant program is part of the City’s ongoing efforts to reduce incidents of gun violence in the community and provide constructive initiatives for South Bend’s young people.”
RNM reached out to Mayor James Mueller’s office for comment. His camp released a statement that was similar to the statement released regarding Justice for Michiana:
As stated before, grant recipients have agreed to comply with all federal, state and local laws, rules, regulations and ordinances. A grantee who violated any laws would also be in violation of the program agreement and could be subject to litigation.
None of the Alive Grant recipients have received grant dollars from the program yet, as those payments are still being processed.