Brothers' strange plot to defraud Boston bombing charity nets three years in prison

Branden Mattier and Domunique Grice were sentenced to three years Monday for trying to collect over $2 million on behalf of their aunt. She had been dead for 10 years.

Michael Dwyer/AP/File
Boston Marathon bombing first-responder Carlos Arrendondo (r.) stands with his wife, Melida (2nd r.), bombing survivor Jeff Bauman (l.), and his fiancée Erin Hurley (2nd l.), after placing flags in Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne, Mass., in May.

A local district court judge on Monday sentenced two brothers to three years in prison for attempting to fraudulently collect millions of dollars from a Boston Marathon bombing victims’ fund.

In July 2013, the convicted duo, Branden Mattier and Domunique Grice, tried to pocket $2.2 million from the relief organization One Fund by claiming that their aunt had lost two limbs during the Marathon bombings. Their aunt, however, had been dead for more than a decade.

The investigation into the pair began in June 2013, soon after the One Fund received an application for the funds from Messrs. Mattier and Grice. One Fund administrators immediately referred the application to authorities as it lacked any of their aunt’s medical records. On July 2, the two were arrested.

In an interview with police that day, Mattier claimed he was “no criminal.” He said he planned to give the money back to community members affected by violence.

“This isn’t about me,” he said, according to The Boston Globe. “You have to look at it as a whole. It’s like a responsibility.”

Prosecutors, however, were unmoved. During the trial, they said the duo had planned to buy a Mercedes Benz with the windfall, arranging a test drive on July 2, the day they were to receive the check.

What’s more, when Mattier and Grice found out that the compensation amount was related to the number of limbs lost, they upped the number of legs allegedly lost by their deceased aunt from one to two, prosecutors said.

“Make no mistake about it, the money they were about to steal was not for their own charity,” said Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General John Verner in his closing arguments on June 13. “These two defendants were going to be rich, rich forever. These two defendants were going to rise to the level of royalty.”

Judge Jeffrey Locke was also unmoved. At the sentencing hearing Monday, he said their crime seemed “almost sociopathic” and that the brothers expressed no remorse over the potential effects their crime might have had on bombing victims.

The charges against the duo, conspiracy to commit larceny over $250 and attempt to commit larceny over $250, carry a combined sentence of anywhere from probation to five years in prison.

The prosecution of Mattier and Grice comes at a moment of turmoil for One Fund. On June 20, several survivors of the Marathon bombing who say they have traumatic brain injuries due to the incident appeared alongside attorneys at the Massachusetts Bar Association, who urged the relief organization to review their distribution practices.

The group alleged that those with nonphysical injuries had been under-compensated, and urged One Fund to review their payout system.

“There were victims who suffered serious, permanent injuries who have quite clearly fallen through the cracks,” said attorney Paul White, who spoke on behalf of 14 victims, according to the Boston Globe. “Now that we have time ... there’s an opportunity to evaluate the people and consider their injuries in full.”

One Fund, in response, said it has fairly examined the effects of all injuries and had distributed funds accordingly. The organization also alleged that the recent movement on behalf of those with “invisible” injuries was the result of opportunism among the lawyers representing the victims in question.

“We have taken invisible injuries very seriously,” said Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for One Fund. “It’s unfortunate that during this time of tremendous generosity that attorneys would involve themselves for what appears to be personal gain and publicity.”

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

[Editor's note: The original version misstated which organization held the June 20 event, as well as Paul White's relation to the 14 victims.]

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