Black Lives Matter activist Monica Cannon-Grant, 41, and her husband, Clark Grant, 38, were indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly scamming donations.
According to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts on Mar. 15, they were accused of using their nonprofit organization, Violence in Boston, to pay for personal expenses. These expenses included rent, shopping sprees, car rentals, delivery meals, nail salon trips, a summer trip, and buying a vehicle for a relative. Authorities alleged that the couple scammed $185,000 from donors, such as the Mass. Chapter of Black Lives Matter and the local district attorney’s office, to do so. As a result, they were arrested and charged with an 18-count indictment, with 13 counts of wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, one count of conspiracy, and one count of making false statements to a mortgage lending business. The indictment also said that Cannon-Grant was charged with one count of mail fraud.
“Cannon-Grant was arrested this morning and will make her initial appearance in federal court,” Tuesday’s statement said. “Grant was previously charged by criminal complaint in October 2021 with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements on a loan and credit application. An arraignment date for Grant has not yet been scheduled by the Court.”
The couple reportedly 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,” said the org’s official site. They operated their organization from Cannon-Grant’s home in Roxbury before moving to Hyde Park in 2020. Since their org’s inception, the pair allegedly received hefty donations and grants that totaled over $1 million, including $3,000 from Cambridge’s BLM chapter for their nonprofit’s program to feed needy children.
A portion of the money raised came from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office through a $6,000 grant to take ten at-risk young men on a three-day retreat for violence prevention in Philadelphia. Cannon-Grant and her husband allegedly used the funds for a trip to Columbia, Md., in 2019.
The Boston activist reported to the state attorney general’s charity division and the IRS that she didn’t receive a salary. Still, prosecutors reportedly indicated that she began paying herself $2,788 a week in October 2020. That same year, Cannon-Grant gained notoriety after organizing a march to protest George Floyd’s death and the death of other police brutality victims. In collaboration with Dorchester restaurant, she also reportedly gave away over $1,000 worth of free meals a day to people who were hit hard by the pandemic. She was even named one of the Boston Globe’s “Bostonians of the Year” and “Best Social Justice Advocate” by Boston Magazine.
During that time, Cannon-Grant and Grant allegedly collected $50,000 in donations, and they either transferred it to multiple investment accounts or withdrew some of it in cash.
The indictment also claimed they collected $100,000 in unemployment benefits during the pandemic while fully employed and used their nonprofit’s assets to be eligible for purchasing a home.
“Unemployment caught my a*s. Asked me to provide documents by June unless I’ll have to pay it all back,” Cannon-Grant allegedly texted her husband on Mar. 26, 2021, according to authorities.
They could face up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud conspiracy charges and 30 years in prison for the charge of making false statements to a mortgage lending business, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts said.
Cannon-Grant is set to be arraigned on the charges next week.