By Yaron Steinbuch
March 16, 2022
-New York Post
A prominent Black Lives Matter leader in Boston and her husband have been charged with using a $6,000 grant to take at-risk youth to a Philadelphia retreat on themselves — for a getaway to Maryland, restaurants and shopping sprees, among other things.
Monica Cannon-Grant, 41, founder of the nonprofit Violence in Boston, and her husband,, Clark Grant, 38, were charged Tuesday in an 18-count federal indictment, including charges for wire fraud and making false statements to a mortgage lending business.
In June 2019, she was given a check for $6,000 for a trip to Philly “to give these young men exposure to communities outside of the violence riddled neighborhoods that they navigate daily,” the Boston Globe reported.
Instead, the couple used the money to take a vacation to Maryland, eat at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Shake Shack and other eateries, and pay for car rentals, Walmart purchases and visits to a nail salon, the feds allege.
The indictment charges them in connection with three separate schemes — defrauding donors, lying on a mortgage application and illegally collecting about $100,000 in pandemic unemployment benefits, according to the Globe.
Clark Grant had already been charged by the feds for allegedly engaging in pandemic-assistance fraud after a raid at the couple’s Taunton home last year, the news outlet reported.
He was slapped with charges of illegally collecting unemployment benefits and making false statements on a mortgage application.
On Tuesday, Cannon-Grant was arrested at her home on charges the couple raised over $1 million in grants and donations for people in need, but took a significant amount of it for themselves, the Globe said.
They allegedly used some of the money to pay rent on their Boston apartment and buy a car for a relative, officials said.
When Violence in Boston was launched in 2017, it operated out of Cannon-Grant’s Roxbury home, but by 2020 the nonprofit had moved to a sprawling site in Hyde Park, according to the paper.
It had amassed more than $50,000 in donations by April 2020, according to the feds.
Prosecutors said that in October 2020, Cannon-Grant began paying herself $2,788 a week, though she had reported to the IRS and the state attorney general’s charity division that she received no salary, according to the Globe.
On Tuesday, a judge released Cannon-Grant on personal recognizance and told her she may continue to work her nonprofit, which runs a food pantry, but cannot handle its finances.
Cannon-Grant has proclaimed her innocence and declined to comment Tuesday outside the Boston federal courthouse.
Her attorney, Robert Goldstein, said in a statement that “we are extremely disappointed the government rushed to judgment here.”
“(Violence in Boston) 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,” he said.
“We remain fully confident Monica will be vindicated when a complete factual record emerges,” the lawyer added.
The feds did not disclose how much of the nonprofit’s money was diverted to the couple’s private accounts.
Cannon-Grant, who has been honored as a Bostonian of the Year by the Boston Globe Magazine and as Beantown’s “best social justice advocate” by Boston Magazine, rose to prominence in 2020 after organizing a march to protest the killing of George Floyd and other black citizens at the hands of police.
Donald Osgood, one of her many supporters, said the charges did not change his feelings.
“My opinion stands as I know her work,” he told the Globe in an email. “She has helped way too many people and innocent until proven guilty is the American way.
“She has provided food, Ubers, hotels to many of the clients she served since doing this work. A lot of the things she’s done for the community were out of pocket expenses and others chipping in. Let’s see where this goes. I still have faith in her work which she continues to do even under these circumstances,” Osgood added.
Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden’s spokesman Jim Borghesani told the Globe that “this is a disturbing violation of the public trust and should not reflect on the organizations that used asset forfeiture funds for their intended purpose.”