A Black Lives Matter activist and her husband are facing federal fraud and conspiracy charges after allegedly using a nonprofit they founded to scam at least $185,000 from donors, federal authorities announced Tuesday.
Monica Cannon-Grant and her husband, Clark Grant, allegedly used money from their nonprofit, Violence in Boston, to pay for rent, shopping sprees, hotels, car rentals, auto repairs, meal deliveries, and a summer vacation trip to Maryland, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.
The couple was charged in an 18-count indictment with two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, one count of conspiracy, 13 counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements to a mortgage-lending business. Cannon-Grant was also charged with one count of mail fraud.
Cannon-Grant was arrested Tuesday and released without bail. She will be allowed to continue working at the nonprofit twice a week but can’t handle its finances, the Boston Globe reported. Federal agents arrested Grant in October and charged him with lying on a mortgage statement and collecting pandemic unemployment benefits illegally.
Cannon-Grant’s lawyer, Robert Goldstein, claimed prosecutors had “rushed to judgment,” adding, “We remain fully confident Monica will be vindicated when a complete factual record emerges.”
“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,” Goldstein said in a statement obtained by Fox News.
The couple first founded Violence in Boston in 2017 with a mission 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,” according to its website.
Cannon-Grant was later named “Best Social Justice Advocate” by Boston Magazine and was one of the Boston Globe’s “Bostonians of the Year.” She is a prominent Black Lives Matter leader in the city, according to Fox News.
The Cambridge, Mass., chapter of Black Lives Matter became an early donor to Violence in Boston, giving $3,000 to the organization for its program to feed children in need. The couple allegedly transferred that donation to the bank account of one of Cannon-Grant’s family members, according to the indictment as reported by the New York Post.
The couple also allegedly took a trip to Columbia, Md., in 2019 using a $6,000 grant the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office gave Violence in Boston to take ten at-risk young men on a three-day violence-prevention retreat in Philadelphia.
The next year, the nonprofit collected donations of up to $50,000 per month. The couple withdrew some of the money in cash from ATMs or transferred the donations to investment accounts at the Robinhood and E-Trade websites, according to the indictment.
Cannon-Grant and her husband also allegedly illegally collected an estimated $100,000 in federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
The pair collected unemployment benefits while Cannon-Grant allegedly earned more than $27,000 in consulting fees for working with a media company on its “diversity, equity, and inclusion” training and took home a $2,788 weekly salary from Violence in Boston, according to the indictment. Meanwhile, Grant had full-time employment with a commuter services company.
In March 2021, Cannon-Grant allegedly texted her husband that “Unemployment caught my a**!” Grant suggested she should have an associate pen a letter falsely stating that Violence in Boston’s headquarters was closed, according to the indictment. Though the associate did not write such a letter, the unnamed associate allegedly created a back-dated letter that Grant used to scam unemployment payments.
The couple also allegedly used the nonprofit’s assets to qualify for a mortgage to buy a home in the Boston suburbs.