SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The City of South Bend and Chief of Police, Scott Ruszkowski, continue to work with “activist” and convicted felon, Vernado Malone, despite a bombshell report detailing his criminal background and his current penchant for taking and showing nude photos of the recently deceased.
REAL News Michiana broke the story surrounding Malone and his “activist” group, Justice for Michiana, last month. Justice for Michiana was created by Malone to help the families of homicide victims pay for funeral arrangements. However, RNM confirmed Malone had been posing as an investigator and was taking nude, full-body photos of the victims at Alford’s Mortuary. RNM spoke to several witnesses who saw the photos on Malone’s phone. You can read full details about his criminal past and the pictures he’s shared here.
Despite all of the facts laid out, The City of South Bend continues to promote events hosted by Malone and Justice for Michiana. Just this past Thursday, Justice for Michiana hosted a “Stop the Violence” townhall event that was attended by Chief Ruszkowski and promoted on the city’s “South Bend Alive” Facebook page.
Justice for Michiana was awarded a $7,000 grant through the city’s “Alive” program earlier this year. 49 other organizations were also given grants, all in the name of curbing gun violence in the city.
RNM sent an email to Mayor James Mueller’s Media contact and Chief Ruszkowski asking why the city is still working with Malone and Justice for Michiana. RNM also volunteered to give the names and numbers of family members who have been victimized by Malone’s predations through Justice for Michiana. Neither responded. The full text of the email is below.
I’m reaching out to ask why the city, police department and the Alive program is still supporting Justice for Michiana.
As outlined in my story and several others, Justice for Michiana has been involved in potentially illegal activity. The founder/president is a multiple convicted felon.
Has the mayor or administration reached out to any families that have had issues with Justice for Michiana? I’d be happy to share contact info with many families who were victims of their predation.
Also, how was the town hall publicized? I would like to have a list of every email the event was sent to.
Also, please add firstname.lastname@example.org to press releases from the city and police department.
WNDU, WSBT, ABC57 and the South Bend Tribune all wrote glowing stories about the event. Nobody asked the Chief why he was continuing to work with Justice for Michiana and Malone.
The townhall event was held after the city had 10 shootings in 7 days, putting the Alive Grant program’s effectiveness in question.
“133 shootings last year in South Bend. Nearly 5,000 bullet casings found. There’s more time spent making excuses for the behavior of the criminals than protecting innocent citizens.” Retired Commander of the St. Joseph Metro Homicide Unit, Tim Corbett, said.
Corbett is also voicing major concern about the City continuing to work with Malone and Justice for Michiana.
“It’s like putting a child molester in charge of a daycare center and then you act surprised by what you get. He’s not a mystery. Anybody could have and should have looked up his criminal past. How do you allow someone who takes pictures of naked dead people and show them to other people like they’re party favors, get $7,000 in grant money. He owes more than $300,000 in restitution from crimes he committed in the past.” Corbett said.
If you’d like to voice your concern you can contact Chief Ruszkowski at email@example.com or you can contact South Bend’s Director of Communications, Caleb Bauer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MALONE REFUSES TO RELEASE PICTURES TO FAMILY
Since RNM published it’s first story in March, several families who dealt with Justice for Michiana have contacted us. One family member, who lost a loved one in November of last year, says Malone presented himself as a detective working for the police. RNM is not naming the woman out of respect of the deceased family member.
“He showed up to the house and showed me pictures of a dead guy. He was using the pictures to show he was legitimate.” She said. “I thought he was a detective.”
She claims Malone led her on, claiming to be pushing the homicide unit to do more with her sister’s case. She says Malone also took photos of her sister that he now refuses to release. She sent us conversations she had with Malone via Facebook Messenger where he refused to release the pictures of her sister for months. When she expressed concern, he told her he was no longer going to help her family. They still have not received the nude photos Malone took of her deceased sister.
Those messages are below: