SOUTH BEND, Ind. — After nearly 6 hours of testimony, a St. Joseph County judge approved a protection order against activist/convicted felon, Vernado Malone, for stalking and harassing a woman for well over a year. This is the 6th protection order to be filed against Malone since 2012, and the 3rd protection order to be approved. Malone was also in prison for several years during that span of time.
Malone, who founded a local non-profit called Justice for Michiana, has stalked and harassed the victim both individually and through his non-profit’s social media accounts. He has falsely called her a prostitute, racist, criminal and adulterer. The woman is also suing Malone for defamation.
The woman who Malone has been attacking, is a former employee of the St. Joseph County Voter Registration 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. Since helping to expose that scheme, Malone and his proxies have relentlessly stalked and attacked the woman. He even unsuccessfully attempted to work with the NAACP to harass the woman further.
The protection order prevents Malone from posting or contacting the victim for 2 years. He is also not allowed within 300 feet of her.
Court records show Malone was served with another protection order just last week. REAL News Michiana is working to get details about that case.
In September, RNM also uncovered a scheme in which Malone allegedly attempted to leverage his position to solicit sex from a single mother-in-need who was promised assistance from Justice for Michiana.
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.
The victim who received the protection order on Tuesday, 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.
During testimony at the protection hearing, Malone presented several of those photos into evidence. That alone violated “consent” forms he claims families of the deceased signed.
Also during testimony, Malone falsely claimed the victim of his harassment had been illegally given access to sensitive voter information at the Voter Registration Office earlier this year. In fact, the woman and her husband are running for public office and were at the Voter Registration Office to receive and submit proper paperwork. An employee for the county’s IT Department testified that the woman did not access any sensitive information.
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.
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