Monica-Cannon Grant and her husband, Clark Grant, are accused of using their organization, Violence in Boston, as a way to fund their rent, summer vacations, car rentals and repairs, shopping sprees, meals, and salon services.
Among the charges in the couple’s 18-count indictment are two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, 13 counts of wire fraud, one count of making false statements to a mortgage lender, and one count of conspiracy. In addition, Cannon-Grant was hit with one count of mail fraud.
She was arrested on Tuesday and was released without bail. According to the Boston Globe, she may continue to work at her nonprofit but will not be permitted to manage its finances.
Her husband was arrested by federal agents in October, who charged him with lying on his mortgage statement and illegally collecting pandemic unemployment benefits. Cannon-Grant and her husband allegedly collected roughly $100,000 in federal pandemic unemployment benefits illegally.
Among her victims was the Cambridge chapter of Black Lives Matter, who sent her nonprofit a $3,000 donation to feed needy children via PayPal; the funds were transferred two days later to one of her family member’s bank accounts.
They also allegedly used a $6,000 grant from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office to fund a vacation in Maryland; the money had been awarded by the DA’s office to Violence in Boston to take a group of at-risk young men on a three-day retreat aimed at preventing violence in Philadelphia.
Prosecutors have also alleged that Cannon-Grant told the IRS and the state attorney general’s office that she did not take a salary from her nonprofit despite paying herself $2,788 per week starting in October 2020.
In March 2021, she allegedly texted her husband at one point: “Unemployment caught my a__! Asked me to provide documents by June unless I’ll have to pay it all back.” He allegedly instructed her to have an associate write a letter that falsely claimed the nonprofit’s headquarters were closed.
Although the associate did not pen such a letter, they did prepare a different letter she used to scam unemployment payments. The associate had previously written fake letters that helped the couple qualify for housing benefits and go to a Boston Celtics game with “proof” of negative COVID-19 test results. The couple has also been accused of using the nonprofit’s assets to qualify for a mortgage to buy a home in the Boston suburb of Taunton.
Violence in Boston’s website claims its 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.”
They set up the questionable nonprofit in 2017 after she gained prominence on the local activist scene for helping to organize a “Fight Supremacy” march in Boston.
According to the New York Post, she bragged of having the personal cellphone numbers of leaders such as council member Michelle Wu, who is now the city’s mayor; the local district attorney; and then-mayor Marty Walsh, who now serves as U.S. Secretary of Labor.
Boston magazine named her “Best Social Justice Advocate” in 2020, and she was also named one of the Bostonians of the Year by the Boston Globe.
Black Lives Matter is also coming under fire for its own questionable activities, with states including Indiana, Maine, North Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, Virginia and New Mexico all recently revoking the charitable registration of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, the legal entity that handles the cash donated to the movement. California and Washington, meanwhile, have been threatening to hold officers of the nonprofit personally liable for their lack of financial transparency.
Sources for this article include: