Monica Cannon-Grant, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist in Boston, was indicted Tuesday on fraud charges by a federal grand jury.
Cannon-Grant and her husband, Clark Grant, founded the nonprofit Violence in Boston, and Cannon-Grant is a well-known BLM activist who rose to prominence in the Boston area after George Floyd’s death in 2020.
What are the details?
Cannon-Grant and her husband were charged in an 18-count federal indictment. They are accused of defrauding donors, lying on a mortgage application, and illegally collecting pandemic-related unemployment funds.
In total, the indictment alleges that Cannon-Grant and Grant “raised more than $1 million in grants and donations for people in need, but took a substantial amount of it for themselves,” the Boston Globe reported.
They allegedly concealed the true nature of transactions all while paying for gas, restaurants, personal travel and hotel reservations, nail salon appointments, auto repairs, and ride-share services with charitable donations, the indictment alleges.
Prosecutors say the defendants “presented themselves as uncompensated VIB Directors to donors and other charitable institutions” when in reality they “exercised exclusive control over VIB financial accounts, used VIB funds to pay for personal expenditures from 2017 through early 2021” and “diverted VIB monies to themselves through cash withdrawals, cashed checks, wire transfers to their personal bank accounts, and debit purchases, among other methods.”
In one shocking incident, prosecutors claim Cannon-Grant applied for and then received a $10,400 grant from a Massachusetts department store on behalf of Violence in Boston in 2017. She told the department store she would use the money “to purchase meals for needy children in the Boston Public school system.” However, prosecutors claim she used more than $3,000 to cover her rent, and she never disclosed to VIB directors that she had received the grant in the first place.
According to the indictment, Cannon-Grant even defrauded the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.
What did Cannon-Grant say?
After being arrested at her home on Tuesday, a judge released Cannon-Grant on her own recognizance. She will be arraigned next week.
Her lawyer, Robert Goldstein, released a statement to the Boston Globe saying “we are extremely disappointed the government rushed to judgment here.”
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. We remain fully confident Monica will be vindicated when a complete factual record emerges.
However, Cannon-Grant addressed the federal investigation in a podcast episode recorded earlier this month — and she blamed “white supremacy” for the probe.
In fact, she said that other black activists had “partnered with white supremacy” to bring her down. She also claimed that people were jealous of her success.
“The moment funding started coming in and the world started seeing us doing the work, which prompted awards and accolades, it was, ‘I want what she got. She don’t deserve it,'” Cannon-Grant said.
“This is what happens when you’re successful,” she added. “This is what happens when you don’t accept mediocrity. This is what happens when you’re successful and nobody can explain your success because it’s not theirs to explain.”