LOL: Activist, Felon Sues RNM Reporter for Calling Him a Clown

Vernado Malone, Justice for Michiana
Vernado Malone, Justice for Michiana

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — On the same day a judge granted a woman a protection order against activist/convicted felon, Vernado Malone, for stalking and harassment, Malone filed an illiterate defamation lawsuit against REAL News Michiana founder and Editor-in-Chief, Clifton French, claiming he caused him harm by calling him a clown.

Malone is also suing for stories and social media posts that call Malone an alleged “sexual predator” and for referencing an “activist mob,” all of which is true. Malone falsely claims the Attorney General’s Office is not investigating him. Malone falsely claimed RNM said he had sex with a minor, when in fact, RNM was reaching out to Malone to follow up on a tip that he had solicited sex from a minor. That tip was given to RNM from a local school bus driver who had overheard a child discussing Malone’s behavior toward her and a friend. That bus driver also provided video/audio of the disturbing conversation. Defamation can only be successful if the claims are untrue. You can read his entire lawsuit below.

Malone and his mob of “activists” have been attacking RNM ever since we uncovered a disturbing scheme in which he was taking and sharing full-body nude pictures of dead bodies from a local funeral home (which in itself is sexual predatory behavior).

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.

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 (which is also sexual predatory behavior).

Malone has also had 6 protection orders filed against him in since 2012, despite the fact that he was in prison for much of that time.

Malone is also requesting court fees be waived because he only has $5.49 in his bank account and has a total income of $820 per month, which is completely paid by the taxpayer. Malone currently owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution for federal crimes he was convicted of.


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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