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Brothers convicted of attempted theft in One Fund case

Brothers Domunique Grice (left) and Branden Mattier spoke to each other during their trial.

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Brothers Domunique Grice (left) and Branden Mattier spoke to each other during their trial.

When State Police arrested Branden Mattier last July for trying to steal more than $2 million from the One Fund Boston, he told them he had only done it to fulfill a lifelong dream: starting his own charity.

“I’m not any type of criminal. I’m not no type of bad guy,” he explained on July 2, 2013, according to a tape of his interview with State Police. “I was going to start a fund of my own. It was something I always wanted to do.”

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On Friday, Mattier, 23, and his brother, Domunique Grice, 28, both of Boston, were convicted by a Suffolk County jury of attempted theft and other charges for filing a false claim on behalf of their long-dead aunt to the charity set up to help victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

The verdicts came after a four-day trial and jury deliberations of less than two hours.

Both brothers were convicted of charges of conspiracy to commit larceny over $250 and attempt to commit larceny over $250. On the charge of identity fraud, Mattier was convicted and Grice was acquitted.

“These two defendants orchestrated a callous scheme to steal more than $2 million from the real victims of the Boston Marathon bombings,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement. “We are pleased that a jury has now held them both accountable.”

The brothers stood while the verdicts were read. After a moment of silence, Grice collapsed into his seat, and his brother rubbed his head and shoulders. The two men were handcuffed and taken into custody. They will be held without bail until sentencing June 23.

Lawyers for the men, who rested their case on Friday without presenting any evidence, said their clients will appeal the ruling. Mattier’s attorney, John Hayes, said they are hoping the judge will be “understanding” during sentencing.

“The judge has a full range of sentences from probation up to five or potentially more years, but they have no records, so we’re hoping the judge will be understanding about the circumstances,” said Hayes.

Grice and Mattier submitted a claim last year to the One Fund on behalf of an aunt who died more than 10 years ago, claiming she had been injured in the bombing. They initially claimed she had lost one leg. When they learned that double amputees would receive more money, they said the aunt lost both legs in the bombing.

When police questioned Mattier on July 2, he said his intention was to give the money back to community members affected by violence.

“This isn’t about me. You have to look at it as a whole,” he told them, according to the tape. “It’s like a responsibility.”

He said his actions did not feel like stealing.

“I think I was entitled to that money to do what I was going to do, yes,” he said, according to the tape. “Do I think that I was entitled to that money, from the gist of the situation, meaning that when it happened was I a victim? You could say I probably was, because I was there; I’m in Boston.”

In their closing arguments, attorneys for Mattier and Grice both said the state had not met its burden of proof to find their clients guilty.

Hayes called the plan a “fantasy” and said it was never even close to success.

“The only thing missing was a clown car, and my client dressed as a coyote saying ‘Super Genius,’” said Hayes, tapping his fingertips together in imitation of the Warner Bros. cartoon villain. “That’s what this comes down to, that’s how bad this was. I don’t mean to denigrate him or anything. I’d rather have Wile E. Coyote than Al Capone. This was such a bad plan that it could not go any place.”

Grice’s lawyer, Michael Roitman, argued that the state did not prove that his client did anything illegal, noting that it was Mattier’s name on all the claim documents and e-mails sent to One Fund and city officials.

Assistant Attorney General John Verner said during his closing arguments that text messages between the brothers proved they crafted the plan together. He pointed to the Mercedes test drive the brothers had scheduled for July 2 as evidence that they expected their plan to work.

“They were going to steal money from the One Fund,” said Verner. “And make no mistake about it, the money they intended to steal was not for their own charity. These two defendants were going to be rich, rich forever. . . . These two defendants were going to rise to the level of royalty.”

Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com.
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