SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The South Bend Chapter of the NAACP is denying a partnership with convicted felon and claimed activist, Vernado Malone, who continues to attack a woman who is seeking a protection order against him. The woman is also suing him for defamation. However, one of the NAACP’s board members, Aisha Avance, is related to Malone and is also part of a scheme that involved taking nude pictures of dead bodies at a local funeral home.
Malone is claiming the NAACP is planning a news conference outside of the County-City Building in Downtown South Bend at 12:15pm today. The “news conference” is to attack the woman with lies, claiming that she was given access to sensitive voter information data at the Voter Registration Office. In fact, the woman and her husband are both running for elected office and were at the Voter Registration Office to file their proper paperwork when Vernado Malone continued a pattern of years-long harassment against the woman. The woman has a court hearing about a protection order against Malone scheduled for tomorrow.
According to NAACP President, Trina Robinson, the NAACP was initially looking into the claims, but backed off once leadership received further information about Malone and the accusations of attacks against the woman. Robinson tells REAL News Michiana that there will be no news conference today.
The woman, who Malone is attacking, is a former employee of the office and was a key witness to uncovering a scheme in which Malone was taking and sharing nude photographs of dead bodies from a local funeral home.
NUDE PICTURE SCHEME
Malone is the owner/founder of a non-profit called Justice for Michiana. The organization was created to help the families of homicide victims with funeral arrangements. Malone had a partnership with Alford’s Mortuary and was given access to take hundreds of nude pictures of dead bodies at the facility. Malone would then share those photos with strangers, friends and family members. Two families of the deceased, who had nude pictures taken, are currently suing Malone and Alford’s Mortuary. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office has also opened up an investigation.
NAACP, VOTER REGISTRATION CONNECTION
Aisha Avance, who is the 3rd Vice President of the NAACP, is also an employee of the Voter Registration Office. Avance is also a relative of Malone’s and used to be the Vice President of his non-profit, Justice for Michiana. Avance was involved with the nude picture scheme and was part of sharing the nude photos of the deceased with employees of the Voter Registration office, including the woman who is now seeking a protection order against Malone.
In fact, the woman involved in Malone’s attacks was the key witness that unraveled Malone’s picture scheme. She reported the incidents to former St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Commander, Tim Corbett, and also gave an interview to REAL News Michiana, which led to our in depth investigative report last year.
Since then, Malone has relentlessly attacked the woman. He has claimed she is a prostitute, adulterer, criminal and racist.
CITY FUNDS CONVICTED FELON
Malone is a multiple convicted federal felon. Despite his record, the City of South Bend helped to fund his non-profit through a city grant to help stop violent crime. Federal court records show a Vernado Malone in the Northern Indiana District, with a criminal record spanning more than a decade.
In 1999, Vernado 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, however, Malone petitioned the court to expunge those records.
Despite all of that, the City of South Bend awarded Malone with $7,000 in taxpayer money as part of the “Alive grant.”
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.”
Attached is Malone’s grant application and the City’s award.
RNM reached out to Mayor James Mueller himself, who had the city’s director of communications, Caleb Bauer, respond. The city had 3 days to come up with the following statement.
“The South Bend Alive Grant Program was developed to support community-based initiatives that work to reduce incidents of gun violence in South Bend. Applicants were required to complete a narrative grant application describing their plans for prospective programming and submit a budget form detailing how grant funds would be utilized.
Recipients are required to provide quarterly updates on their programs and measurable data to the Office of Community Initiatives for review.
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.”
RNM asked Bauer if the city knew about Vernado Malone’s criminal record and if the city did background checks on the applicants. Bauer did not respond.