SOUTH BEND, Ind. — REAL News Michiana continues to dig into South Bend City grants given to nearly 50 organization in order to “reduce gun violence.” RNM has discovered tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars have been given to convicted felons, murderers, fraudsters and robbers. It turns out, $15,000 more went to a public school that’s been actively hiding crimes committed by its students. The school also hired a convicted armed robber as a security guard. RNM also discovered that felon/security guard has committed federal offenses while working at the school.
RNM has been investigating the South Bend Alive Grant initiative for nearly a year. 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.” The city gave 50 organizations these grants totaling $350,000. The Alive program is in its first year of operation and is run through the Department of Community Initiatives and its director Maurice Scott.
RNM obtained the applications, awards and other information about each of the grant awardees through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Below you can see the grant application, award and stipulations for South Bend’s Rise Up Academy High School (a “restorative justice” school where troubled kids and young adults attend).
CRIMES AT RISE UP ACADEMY
Earlier this week, RNM broke a story showing staff and administrators covering up crimes committed by students. It turns out, a security officer for the South Bend Community School Corporation’s Rise Up Academy High School collected weapons and drugs from students throughout the 2020-2021 school year, never calling police at the time the crimes were being committed. He then called police at the end of the year to have officers dispose of the illegal items. All of which was captured on officer bodycam video.
While there are many problems with the incident itself, it turns out the security officer is a convicted felon and committed a federal offense by handling and possessing certain items. A short incident report from the call can be seen below.
“Brown took me to a room with a table that had contraband items the school had confiscated from students during the prior school year. Brown stated the administration does not want any students who had possessed these items identified and just wanted police to turn in the items as found property.” The report says, in part.
The incident, which happened on May 28th, was also captured on police officer Bodycam video. The video shows Security Officer Greg Brown escorting an officer into the room with the contraband. When they get inside he asks the officer “What do you think? Think I did a pretty good job?”
Brown then says, “I search every kid that come in here.”
Brown then proceeds to tell the responding officer what has been done with items confiscated from students in past years.
“Normally what they do at the end of the year is take the stuff that’s illegal and then cigarette lighters and that, I throw them in the trash.” Brown told the officer.
The officer goes on to explain there would be more he could do if the people who were committing the crimes were present. He also seems to express concern that police weren’t called when the items were initially discovered.
“It would be different if we got the person that had the pill bottle with him.” The officer said, regarding a pill bottle that had been used to carry marijuana, according to Brown.
“You see, all this, I take it all year long.” Brown said to the officer. “And then send a bag with the student’s name on it. But, they didn’t want the student’s name out there. So, they be wanting me to take it down as found property. But, I have their names (inaudible) all of that.” Brown explained.
“We’re the restorative justice school, the first time we’ll take it, confiscate it and call your parent.” Brown said about the policy of the school.
Video of the incident can be seen below.
Brown, 58, spent more than 10 years in federal prison in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. He was convicted on three violent crime charges; 1) Conspiracy to commit Robbery, Use of Firearm During a Crime of Violence, Transportation of Stolen Goods 2) Obstruction by Robbery 3) Using or Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to a Crime of Violence. Those charges stemmed from a robbery in the Indianapolis area.
RNM was able to track down the docket sheet detailing the charges and convictions (those documents can be seen below). The federal clerk’s office could not find the criminal complaint containing the narrative and details of the crimes. RNM is attempting to get those narratives from federal archives and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
A school district spokesperson previously told RNM the following regarding Brown’s employment.
“We conducted a background check prior to him starting in 2015, but there was nothing indicated that would disqualify him from employment. On his application, he disclosed ‘conspiracy interstate trafficking of jewelry October 24, 1992.’ According to the background check, a Criminal Trespass charge was dismissed in 1991. A charge of Battery (a misdemeanor) remained, but was more than 10 years before his application.”
RNM reached back out to the school district today asking the following questions. As of publication, we have not received a response.
There are two concerns here: 1) Why weren’t the police called when these crimes were being committed? Why is the school aiding and abetting criminals? 2) Is the district aware that it is a federal offense for a felon to handle/possess bullets? Mr. Brown is a convicted armed robber.
Brown also received an Alive Grant for his own organization, Silence the Violence. You can read more about that here.
RNM Reached out to Mayor James Mueller, his spokesperson and employees in charge of the Alive Grant. As of publication, none of them have responded. You can read the questions RNM asked below.
I am reaching out to see if ties have been severed with the Rise Up Academy and Greg Brown in accordance with Alive Grant rules. Mr. Brown committed federal offenses for possessing ammunition as a convicted felon. Rise Up Academy hid the crimes of students by not reporting them to law enforcement. Rise Up Academy was also part of the federal offenses considering Mr. Brown was hired by the school as a security guard and committed those offenses while working in that capacity.
So far, RNM’s investigations into the Alive grant and its awardees have lead to the discovery of several potential criminal acts.
RNM discovered the city changed the name on one grant to give money to a friend of the Director of Community Initiatives, Maurice Scott. A notice of tort was just issued in that case. You can read all about that here.
RNM uncovered a disturbing scheme in which one awardee, Justice for Michiana and its founder Vernado Malone, were taking and sharing nude photographs of the recently deceased at a local funeral home. You can read that story here.
Another awardee, Wright Chosen Ministries and its founder Lori Wright, is accused of taking food stamps from homeless families and selling them to a woman in Louisiana. You can read more about that story here.
Finally, RNM discovered the city gave thousands of dollars to a convicted murderer who had been out of prison for less than a year. You can read about that here.
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