SOUTH BEND, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has uncovered a scheme in which a local South Bend activist, who has been funded by the city government, used his position to try to pressure a woman-in-need into sex in order to help her take care of her children. When she refused, he denied the promised assistance. He also convinced that woman to hand over the social security number, name and date of birth of her child with Autism.
“He was saying, like, how he’d like to suck my toes and other private things.” The Woman, who RNM will not name due to being the victim of a sexual incident, said.
The victim in this incident says she was contacted by Vernado Malone with Justice for Michiana after she made a Facebook post regarding transportation for her son with disabilities. Shortly after, having financial problems, Malone said he could help the single mother pay her electric bill — however, she says, he insinuated the help came with sexual favors.
“That’s how I’m feeling that it was. Because once I didn’t do anything and once, you know, I got it in text form and said ‘Hey, I didn’t appreciate what you did in the office and now my bill still isn’t paid,’ he said basically, in text, either I want his help or not.” The victim told RNM.
The victim also provided RNM with copies of the text conversations with Malone to back up her claims. WARNING: The messages contain vulgar language of which RNM is not redacting in order to show the full extent of the allegations.
“I KEPT telling u (sic) it was making me VERY UNCOMFORTABLE I wanted to get up n (sic) walk out but my kids needed the lights!… I recorded u talking about eating my p**** n (sic) everything! Be careful” The victim tells Malone in on text.
“I didn’t want too (sic) make you feel uncomfortable told you that my apologies.” Malone responded.
The victim in this story provided RNM with text messages and social media screenshots to show the entire timeline of events which occurred between August 18th and the beginning of September.
She says she was initially contacted by Malone after she made a post on Facebook regarding transportation issues for her child on August 18th. She says she didn’t know Malone, but had heard of Justice for Michiana and knew, at one point, the organization had a partnership with the City of South Bend. That Facebook post is below.
The victim also provided Facebook messages from Justice for Michiana from the same day, August 18th.
“Hey are you having transportation issues” The first message reads.
“Yes” The victim responds.
“We can help….” Malone writes back.
Late that night, close to midnight, the victim says Malone contacted her and said he needed her to sign consent forms in order for him to help her with transportation for her children.
“It was 11:45 at night and he text my phone and he said ‘we’re out here at (address nearby)…'” She said. “He was like ‘since I’m out here, I have these papers if you want to sign them.’ I was like, well, I was in the bed. But, I guess I could get up and put on some clothes… he was like ‘you don’t have to get dressed, lol.'”
You can see that text exchange below.
“It made me feel like there was a different motive here. So, I made up an excuse so he wouldn’t come to my house that late.” She said.
The victim tells RNM, Malone reached out to her the very next day wanting to stop by her house again. She says she made up another excuse, so Malone would not come to her home.
“I asked if I could call him back to reschedule or we could meet in the office in a more business setting.” She said. “He said that was fine.”
The woman says two days later, her electricity was shut off. Desperate for help, she called Malone again.
“I said ‘Sorry for having to reschedule. I just didn’t like the way you was coming onto me.'” She said. “I put it in capital letters in a text, ‘I DON’T WANT THAT AT ALL.'” That text exchange can also be seen below.
The victim went to Malone’s office at the Mary Crest building on August 23rd. Despite the text message seen above, she says his sexual advances increased.
“When I walk in, all the lights are off except for the desk lamp. So, now, I’m feeling really weirded out.” She said. “The whole time we’re sitting there talking he’s being very perverse. Saying very sexual content oriented things… he was saying, like, how he’d like to suck my toes and other private things.”
“But, he got my lights back on.” She continued.
However, she says the way he got her lights back on was a scam in itself.
“He called AEP on 3-way and said Justice for Michiana was making the pledge of $939.81, which is what was needed to get my lights back on.” She explained. “That was enough for them to turn the power back on, I guess.”
But, the bill was never paid. And, according to the victim, the incident caused her to incur more than $200 of extra fees.
“It was a scam… He said he made a temporary pledge. He didn’t pay anything… So now I have extra fees on there because they turned my lights back on and there are extra charges.”
“(I believe he wanted sexual favors in exchange for assistance) because, once, you know, I got it in text form and said ‘Hey, I didn’t appreciate what you did in the office and now my bill still isn’t paid,’ he said basically, in text, either I want his help or not.” The victim told RNM.
RNM spoke to Malone about the allegations and several other potential crimes that we’re investigating. Malone denied the sexual advances. Audio and transcripts will be released as soon as RNM completes those other investigations.
The victim in this case is now concerned about what Malone is doing with all of her information he received during their in-person meeting. She says Malone took her name, date of birth and social security number. He took the same information of her two young children.
Malone admitted to RNM that he took the personal information from the family, but would not say what he needed it for.
“It’s confidential.” He said. “You’re retarded.”
The victim’s concerns are warranted considering Malone’s criminal past. Malone has a long history involving federal fraud.
In 1999, Malone was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for credit card fraud. He was ordered to pay more than $17,000 in restitution.
In 2005, Vernado Malone was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Aiding and Abetting Forfeiture Allegation. He was ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution.
In 2015, Vernado Malone was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for Mail Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft. He was ordered to pay more than $50,000 in restitution.
There are also several state level charges and convictions. In February, Malone petitioned the court to expunge those records.
JUSTICE FOR MICHIANA ISSUES
This is just the latest in a string of issues involving Justice for Michiana. RNM uncovered a scheme in which Malone was using his position to take nude photos of the recently deceased at a local funeral home. You can read about that here.
Malone was also implicated in an EBT scam involving another local activist. You can read about that here.
Malone and Justice for Michiana were awarded $7,000 in taxpayer grant money from the City of South Bend. A program in which a city administrator admitted, in recorded conversation, has been involved in some levels of fraud. You can read that story and listen to the audio here.
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