A BLM activist has been charged over a huge fraud which is said to have included blowing a grant intended for young men at risk of violence on trips to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Shake Shack and a nail salon.
Monica Cannon-Grant, 41, is also said to have paid herself $2,700-a-week and treated herself to a $450,000 five-bed house in Taunton, Massachusetts, last year.
She is accused of using much of the $1 million raised by her nonprofit Violence in Boston Inc for good causes. Her salary jumped 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. She appeared in a federal court Monday alongside husband Clark Grant, 38, with the pair facing 18 separate criminal counts dating from 2017 to July 2021. She has denied all allegations made against her.
Judge Judith Dein raised eyebrows after releasing Cannon-Grant on her own recognizance and saying she could continue to work for Violence in Boston – the nonprofit she’s accused of using as a front for her crimes – but that she must not be involved in its finances.
The couple are said to have 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 feared to be at risk of falling into crime.
Instead, Cannon-Grant and Grant treated themselves to meals at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Shake Shack, and a three night break to Maryland that included a $1,200 hotel stay, it is claimed.
Monica Cannon-Grant is pictured outside a Boston federal courthouse Tuesday where she and her husband were charged with 18 counts of fraud totaling $1m
Grant, pictured at a September 2020 BLM rally, is said to have blown grants intended to help vulnerable young men 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
Cannon-Grant is also said to have used some of the cash 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.
Another alleged incident in 2017 saw $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 also fraudulently applied for $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.
And 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.
Cannon-Grant, 41, and her husband Clarke Grant, 38, were arrested at their home in Taunton, Massachusetts last week. 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. Pictured: the interior of the Grants’ Taunton home
Cannon Grant, a mother of six, was once given the ‘Bostonian of the Year’ award by The Boston Globe Magazine and hailed as the city’s ‘best social justice advocate’ by Boston Magazine
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.
On Tuesday, Cannon-Grant appeared in federal court in Boston. She was released on personal recognizance. Astonishingly, Judge Judith Dein said Cannon-grant can continue to work for Violence in Boston – the organization she’s accused of using as a front for her huge alleged fraud – but that she must stay away from its finances.
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.
Cannon-Grant’s received thousands of dollars in consulting fees, promoting ‘diversity’ programs, public speaking forums and public appearances through her Link Tree
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.
BLM leader Monica Cannon-Grant (R) speaks to protesters about their movement with the photos of people who have lost their lives, including George Floyd, to police racism across the US at Franklin Park in Boston, Massachusetts on June 2, 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.