Monica Cannon-Grant and her husband Clark Grant, who founded the non-profit organization Violence in Boston, have been charged in an 18-count indictment with wire fraud, conspiracy, and making false statements to a mortgage lending business
Cannon-Grant, 41, and her husband Grant, 38, of Taunton allegedly used money raised by the NGO Violence in Boston Inc to pay for personal expenses
Those included restaurant outings, vacations and visits to the beauty spas
The couple bought a $450,000 home last year were arrested last week
Couple both have made more than $100,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits, while Cannon-Grant also made $33,426 in ‘diversity’ consulting fees
They also allegedly fraudulently applied for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, while having other sources of income and lied about their mortgage – according to arrest complaint
On Tuesday, Cannon-Grant appeared in a Boston federal court for her indictment, but was released on her own recognizance
Cannon-Grant’s activism had previously earned her numerous accolades, such as Boston Globe Magazine’s Bostonian of the Year award for 2020
Civil rights activist and her husband have been accused of collecting approximately $33,426 in unemployment payments in Massachusetts and using an unspecified amount of donation money to treat themselves to meals at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., vacations and trips to the nail salon.
Taunton, residents Monica Cannon-Grant, 41, and her husband, Clark Grant, 38, who founded the non-profit organization Violence in Boston, were charged in an 18-count indictment with wire fraud, conspiracy, and making false statements to a mortgage lending business, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement Tuesday.
Black Lives Matter (BLM), activist Monica Cannon-Grant also faces a mail fraud count. Appearing in court on Tuesday, she has denied all allegations made against her.
The indictment alleges the couple used the funds to pay for personal expenses including, hotels, car rentals, auto repairs, restaurant meals, nail salons and personal travel, prosecutors said.
Cannon-Grant who allegedly paid herself $2,700-a-week also acquired a $450,000 five-bed house in Taunton, Massachusetts, in 2021.
She is accused of embezzling much of the $1 million raised by her nonprofit Violence in Boston, ostensibly, for good causes, The charges include raising her salary from $25,000 in 2020 to $170,000 in 2021.
Cannon-Grant, once named a Bostonian of the Year by the prestigious Boston Globe newspaper, was arrested at her spacious home last week.
Appearing in a federal court on Monday alongside husband, Judge Judith Dein released Cannon-Grant on her own recognizance.
The defendant could continue to work for Violence in Boston, but that she must not be involved in its finances, the judge ordered
Cannon-Grant is the founder and CEO of the organization that was founded in 2017, and Grant is a founding director.
The organization received significant attention at the height of the BLM movement in 2020, when the murder of George Floyd by police bolstered the nation’s racial justice movement.
But the BLM foundation has also faced intense scrutiny over financial transparency in recent months, and leaders admitted that they had not been clear about the movement’s finances and governance over the years.
BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors, stepped down as executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network last year amid scrutiny of her acquisition of three homes worth about $3.2 million.
The foundation in the bid for more transparency since, announced that the fiscal sponsor currently managing its money requires spending be approved by a collective action fund, which is a board made up of representatives from official BLM chapters.
Prosecutors allege that Cannon-Grant embezzled grants intended to help vulnerable young men,which was spent instead on trips to restaurants and nail salons. She’s also accused of fraudulently obtaining $100,000 in pandemic relief, and lying on a mortgage application.
After the horrendous killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, the surge of donations saw the BLM foundation transition from a fledgling movement to a mature, influential organization. Similarly affiliated and associated organizations, like Cannon-Grant’s Violence and Boston, also saw growth.
The charging documents state that Cannon-Grant and her husband misappropriated grants intended for their charity, including a $6,000 check given to them by Suffolk District Attorney’s office in June 2019, intended to be spent on a retreat for young men at risk of falling into the streets and a life of crime.
Cannon-Grant and Grant instead, allegedly treated themselves to meals at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Shake Shack, rounding up with a three-night trip to Maryland that included a $1,200 hotel stay, it is claimed.
Cannon-Grant is also said to have used some of the organization’s funds on multiple trips to a Boston nail salon, as well as car rentals, groceries and trips to Walmart.
The $6,000 retreat was supposed ‘to give these young men exposure to communities outside of the violence riddled neighborhoods that they navigate daily’ and give them exposure to activities focused on community-building and coping techniques,’ according to her grant proposal.
A seperate charge states that in 2017, $3,000 of a $10,000 donation for needy children spent on paying the couple’s rent arrears, it is claimed.
Cannon-Grant and her husband have also been accused of fraudulently applying for and receiving $100,000 federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits that they knew they were not eligible to receive because they had other sources of income at the time, it is alleged.
They also the allegation that they lied to a mortgage lender by saying Violence in Boston’s assets were their own to help pay for mortgage fees and closing costs, prosecutors said.
It is unclear if any money from donations provided to Violence in Boston was used to purchase the $450k and five-bedroom property.
The couple also lied to a mortgage lender by saying Violence in Boston’s assets were their own to help pay for fees and closing costs.
The couple maintained exclusive control over organization finances, and did not disclose to other Violence in Boston directors, bookkeepers, or financial auditors that they had used the funds for their own purposes, prosecutors added.
Last Tuesday, the couple was arrested at their $450,000 Taunton residence. It remains unclear if funds given to the non-profit organization were used to buy the five-bedroom home, which was purchased in 2021, at the height of their alleged scamming.
Both were charged in an 18-count indictment with wire fraud, conspiracy, and making false statements to a mortgage lending business, according to prosecutors.
Cannon-Grant also faces a mail fraud count.
She claims to have previously filed to the IRS and the state attorney general’s charity division that she has not been receiving a salary. However, prosecutors said that in October 2020, Cannon-Grant was starting to pay herself $2,788 per week.
The organization runs a food pantry twice a week. Prior to Canon-Grant’s arrival in court, her attorney, Robert Goldstein, said he expected her to be vindicated.
‘We are extremely disappointed the government rushed to judgment here,’ he said in an email.
‘VIB and Monica have been fully cooperating and their production of records remains ongoing. Drawing conclusions from an incomplete factual record does not represent the fair and fully informed process a citizen deserves from its government, especially someone like Monica who has worked tirelessly on behalf of her community.’
Prosecutors did not reveal the total amount of money collected by Violence in Boston that was transferred into the Grants’ personal accounts.
Clarke Grant was previously charged in October with illegally obtaining an estimated $67,950 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits before claiming that the nonprofit’s assets were his own in a mortgage application. He was working in a full-time job at a transportation company at the the time.
His court date on the new charges has not been scheduled.
Canon-Grant, in the meantime, received $33,426 in pandemic funds, the indictment read. She also received thousands of dollars in consulting fees, promoting ‘diversity’ programs at private companies. One of those payments included a $75,000 grant from a media company in Boston, called the Phantom Gourmet television program.
‘Unemployment caught my ass. Asked me to provide documents by June unless I’ll have to pay it all back,’ Cannon-Grant told her husband through text message on March 26, 2021, after realizing she’d been busted, according to prosecutors.
Violence in Boston was founded in 2017 with $1,000, according to its website. Donations poured into the non-profit throughout the years, as the group received more than $50,000 just for April 2020 and $53,977 on another months from Boston officials in the wake of George Floyd’s May 2020 murder.
‘Violence in Boston’s mission is to improve the quality of life and life outcomes of individuals from underserved communities by reducing the prevalence of violence and the impact of associated trauma while addressing social injustices through advocacy and direct services,’ the organization says on its website.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the nonprofit also distributed food.
Cannon-Grant’s activism, including the organization of a rally in the city in 2020 to protest the killing of George Floyd has earned her numerous awards, such as The Boston Globe Magazine’s Bostonian of the Year award, and a Boston Celtics Heroes Among Us award, both in 2020.
The Cummings Foundation, which features prominently on Violence in Boston’s website as a major donor for three-year, $100,000 grant last year, is cooperating with authorities and monitoring the situation, foundation Executive Director Joyce Vyriotes said.
‘Because Violence in Boston’s next grant installment (its second of three payments) is not scheduled to occur until late June, no decision on its potential distribution has yet been made. We will be following the investigation closely,’ she said in an e-mail sent to the Boston Globe.
The foundation, established by the founder of the commercial real estate firm Cummings Properties, has distributed one-third of the grant amount, but no decision has been made on whether the next third will be distributed, she said.