In 2017 Monica Cannon-Grant started a social justice group called Violence in Boston. She became an organizer of Black Lives Matter marches and was voted one of the Bostonians of the Year in 2020 by the Boston Globe. Now Cannon-Grant has been arrested and charged with defrauding donors of much of the money her organization collected.

On Tuesday, the prominent community organizer who has emerged as a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement was arrested at her Taunton home on charges she and her husband raised more than $1 million in grants and donations for people in need, but took a substantial amount of it for themselves. Some of it was also used to pay rent on their Boston apartment and buy a car for a relative, prosecutors said.

Cannon-Grant, 41, and her husband, Clark, 38, are charged in an 18-count indictment with three separate schemes: defrauding donors; illegally collecting an estimated $100,000 in pandemic unemployment benefits, and lying on a mortgage application…

While Cannon-Grant reported to the IRS and the state attorney general’s charity division that she received no salary, prosecutors said that in October 2020 she started paying herself $2,788 a week…

…the mother of six was honored as a Bostonian of the Year by The Boston Globe Magazine and hailed as the city’s “best social justice advocate” by Boston Magazine.

This woman became a rock-star in Boston but the charging documents say the funds raised by her “charity” wound up in her own pocket. The documents make it pretty clear that this group was a fraud from the start and when donations really took off in 2020, the fraud continued.

On or about August 22, 2017, a Cambridge Black Lives Matter organization (“BLMC”) made a $3,000 PayPal donation to VIB to supp01i VIB’s program to feed needy children. Two days later, on August 24, 2017, CANNON-GRANT and CLARK GRANT transferred those funds via a VIB Pay Pal payment of $3,400 to a bank account belonging to one of CANNON-GRANT’s family members (“FM-1 “). Then on August 28, 2017, a cash withdrawal of $3,400 was made from FM-1 ‘s bank account. CANNON-GRANT and CLARK GRANT did not inform the other VIB directors or VIB’s financial auditors/bookkeepers that BLMC’s $3,000 donation had been diverted to one of their family members and withdrawn in cash…

In 2019, VIB collected donations of approximately $91,574 in PayPal payments and $32,769 in deposits to the VIB Bank Account. With respect to the VIB PayPal Account, there was a total of approximately $54,614 in withdrawals, which included over $6,000 in ATM cash withdrawals, and thousands of dollars spent on meals, groceries, Amazon, Uber, and for goods and services from Boston area nail salons. 2019 debits from the VIB Bank Account (approximately $38,595 in total) included CANNON-GRANT’s and CLARK GRANT’s purchases at the Wrentham Outlet Mall (e.g., Polo, Timberland, Lane Bryant, True Religion during December 2019), Walmaii, and Amazon purchases; and thousands of dollars spent on meals (e.g., Uber Eats), Uber, personal car payments and auto repairs…

In 2020, VIB began to collect significantly more money in charitable donations. For example, the VIB Bank Account received approximately $50,000 in donations in the month of April 2020, alone, its largest monthly collection amount at the time. With this larger influx of VIB funds, CANNON-GRANT and CLARK GRANT began to help themselves to greater amounts from the VIB Bank Account…

Despite taking tens of thousands of dollars from various accounts, Cannon-Grant reported to the IRS that she received no salary from her organization. Meanwhile, when it came time to apply for a mortgage, she claimed all of the money in her personal bank account was hers, not her charity’s money.

There’s one other thing in the charging documents that caught my attention. Cannon-Grant apparently became a DEI trainer for an unspecified Boston media company. Money from that endeavor also went to her personal accounts.

In or about June/July of 2020, CANNON-GRANT and a business associate (“Associate 1 “) entered into a consulting agreement with a Massachusetts media business (“Media Co.”) pursuant to which CANNON-GRANT and Associate 1 would provide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (“DEI”) consulting services to the Media Co. in exchange for a $75,000 fee. When asked by another VIB employee whether income from this Media Co. work was going to VIB, CANNON-GRANT responded, in sum and substance, that this money was not going to VIB, but rather to a separate CANNON-GRANT entity that was doing social justice work. In reality, CANNON-GRANT deposited her share of the Media Co. payments (approximately $26,833) into her personal checking account and used it to pay CANNON-GRANT’s and CLARK GRANT’s household expenses such as rent, food, and other personal expenditures, all while collecting PUA payments.

I’d love to know which media outlet was paying her $75,000 for these services and how they feel about it today. This is sort of the Boston edition of the Michael Avenatti story, where the media makes someone a star for obvious political reasons only to have them uncovered as a fraudster. Howie Carr has a piece at the Boston Herald calling out all of the media organizations that celebrated Cannon-Grant and made her a figure worthy of donations.

Does Boston Magazine still think she’s “the best social justice advocate in Boston?”

Do the Boston Celtics still consider her “a hero among us?”

Does the Boston City Council still offer her “congratulations” after her 18-count indictment?

Does the Roxbury Unity Community still consider her a “Leader of Tomorrow?”

Of all the slobbering, the Globe is probably most responsible for enabling this alleged million-dollar flim-flam to fester for so long.

Remember the Globe’s front-page profile, by two of their crack scribes, describing her as both “a firecracker and a mother bear” who “leads change.”

I’m guessing they’re all feeling a bit red-faced about it today.

Finally, here’s a local news report on the charges. Monica Cannon-Grant had nothing to say about them on her way out of court. Her attorney claims she’ll be “vindicated” but it looks to me like there’s a mountain of evidence that’s going to be very hard to explain away.

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