Accused scammer says he wanted to help others
The man accused of attempting to bilk One Fund Boston of more than $2 million told police he filed the false claim to help people “in his own neighborhood” and did not consider it stealing, according to court records filed Wednesday.
Branden Mattier, who allegedly claimed that his aunt had lost both her legs in the Marathon bombings, admitted to investigators that she had died more than a decade ago, according to State Police, but maintained that he filed the claim to help others.
“Mattier stated that he understood why we thought this would constitute an attempt to steal money from [the One Fund] but he did not agree as his intention was to help people,” a State Police report stated.
Details of the alleged scam emerged as Mattier, 22, was arraigned on charges of attempted larceny and identity theft. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held on $30,000 cash bail. If he posts bail, he must surrender his passport and wear a GPS bracelet.
Prosecutors said Mattier’s claim included a falsified letter from a Boston Medical Center trauma specialist that described the aunt as a double amputee. But discrepancies in the document, along with its overall appearance, drew immediate suspicion.
“A review of the fraudulent BMC letter shows that various parts of the letter contain inconsistent font sizes and grammatical errors,” State Police wrote. “The overall appearance of the letter is that it is not a professional document that would have been produced as official correspondence by BMC.”
At Mattier’s arraignment in Boston Municipal Court, prosecutors called the alleged scheme an egregious attempt to defraud a charitable cause.
“He essentially tried to take millions away from people who suffered life-altering injuries,” said Assistant Attorney General Gina Masotta.
Mattier’s lawyer, Claudia Lagos, said he had no criminal record as an adult and had close ties to the community. He lives with his mother in the South End and is taking film classes in Somerville, she said.
Lagos said it was “clear that people are angry about the case,” but that Mattier posed no flight risk and will contest the charges. “He wants to fight this case,” she said. “He wants to tell his story.”
In seeking high bail, Masotta said Mattier travels frequently as part of his musical career and has the means to leave the area.
Mattier’s mother, brother, and girlfriend attended the court hearing, and left without speaking to reporters.
Mattier showed little emotion during the hearing, but at one point closed his eyes and looked to the ceiling for several seconds. When he left the courtroom, he gestured to his family in support.
A probable cause hearing was scheduled for Aug. 2.
Prosecutors said Mattier attended a One Fund meeting in May where fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg discussed how bombing victims would be compensated, and the next day registered through the fund’s website. He filed his claim in mid-June, saying his aunt had been hospitalized for 18 days and had both legs amputated.
In the claim, he wrote that his aunt had sustained “first-degree burns to hands and lower body, severe trauma to lower left and right legs.”
The falsified letter, written on Boston Medical Center letterhead and which appeared to have been signed by the hospital’s chief of trauma services, Peter Burke, was not included in court records.
One Fund officials reviewed the letter and found it to be “inconsistent with other correspondence” they had received from hospitals. They contacted Boston Medical Center, which said the letter had been fabricated.
Investigators later notified Mattier that his aunt’s claim had been granted, and that a check for almost $2.2 million would be delivered to his South End home Tuesday, prosecutors said. When an officer disguised as a courier arrived, prosecutors said, Mattier was outside to greet him.
“You’re looking for me,” he said, according to court records. After he signed for the check, he was arrested.
Under questioning, Mattier initially maintained that his aunt was a bombing victim, but relented when police said they knew she had died in 2000. He had filed the claim, he said, “because he felt he could provide help to people in his own neighborhood.”