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9 MONTHS LATE: SBT Finally Looks Into City Grant Issues RNM Has Investigated for Nearly a Year

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The South Bend Tribune finally looked into the obvious issues regarding the City of South Bend’s Alive Grant program after nearly a year of investigations and stories published by REAL News Michiana.

RNM’s Investigations have lead to the discovery of actual fraud within the program, uncovered a scheme between a local funeral home and con-man who was taking a sharing nude photos of the recently deceased, the allocation of money to a convicted murderer and more money to an armed robber, allegations of food stamp fraud and accusations of one grantee propositioning a single mother for sex in order to assist her in a time of need.

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 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.

An RNM investigation also lead to a pending lawsuit against the city, where Scott is accused of directing his office to change the name on a grant application to award thousands of dollars to a friend of his.

The South Bend Tribune’s article mainly focuses on the lack of background checks completed on grant awardees.

At least seven people leading groups that received funding had prior felony convictions, including fraud, robbery and conspiracy to commit murder, according to public records. 

Also, one grant recipient was ousted from the program for falsely telling people he was a city employee, and an applicant is threatening to sue over questions about how one grant was awarded.

RNM reported on the lack of background checks on March 6th, 2021. The SBT article is also hidden behind a paywall, so only subscribers can access it. All of RNM’s stories are publicly accessible.

RNM has also faced threats and legal action from government employees for investigating the issues. One government employee filed an erroneous protection order to keep RNM from looking into the grant issues. That prevented RNM journalist, Clifton French, from going nearly anywhere in Downtown South Bend. That order was eventually tossed out by the courts, after nearly 3 months.

The City of South Bend is now in the process of reviewing new Alive Grant applications for next year and plan to announce those awardees in the coming weeks. Count on RNM to investigate the grants months before the Tribune.

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