On Tuesday, Monica Cannon-Grant, a progressive Boston activist who gained prominence in the wake of George Floyd’s death in 2020 and involvement with protests associated with the city’s Black Lives Matter movement, pleaded not guilty to “defrauding donors to their nonprofit Violence in Boston (VIB), fraudulently obtaining pandemic-related unemployment benefits and making false statements to a mortgage lender,” WBUR reported. Cannon-Grant’s husband, Clark, is also accused of several crimes and also pled not guilty on Tuesday.
Earlier in March, The Daily Wire reported that Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins’ office arrested and charged Cannon-Grant and her husband in part related to a “scheme to defraud donors to their non-profit, VIB.”
The Boston Herald added that prosecutors “allege the couple diverted charitable donations to VIB to their personal expenses, including nail salons, restaurants, food deliveries, hotel reservations, car rentals and auto repairs, among other things, according to prosecutors.”
“The defendants did not disclose to other VIB directors or VIB’s bookkeepers or financial auditors that they had used VIB funds for such payments,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement announcing.
According to the Herald, the couple is also accused of “conspiracy in connection with access to federal pandemic unemployment benefits.” Likewise, Cannon-Grant and her husband are accused of mortgage fraud:
The couple are also charged with defrauding a mortgage company by submitting “false information and fraudulent documentation,” allegedly listing the bank account and financial assets of VIB as their own, on a mortgage application.
The Washington Examiner reported on March 9 that prior to her arrest, Cannon-Grant confirmed via podcast that was she being investigated, but that it was because other black leaders “were jealous of her meteoric rise ‘partnered with white supremacy’ in an attempt to bring her down”:
“In 2020, we went from a $40,000, $50,000 a year organization to a [multimillion-dollar] organization — more money, more problems,” Cannon-Grant said. “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.’”
The Examiner also provided more background on Cannon-Grant, who has several connections to high-profile Massachusetts Democrats:
Monica Cannon-Grant, the founder and CEO of the charity group Violence in Boston, rose to prominence in the Boston BLM community after George Floyd’s murder in May 2020. Something of a powerbroker in Boston Democratic politics, she reportedly established a close working relationship with Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu when the two served on the Boston City Council. Former Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III hailed Cannon-Grant’s endorsement of his failed 2020 Senate campaign.
Cannon-Grant was named the 2020 ‘Bostonian of the Year’ by the Boston Globe for activism after the death of George Floyd and for her involvement with protests associated with the Black Lives Matter movement in the city of Boston. The paper recently noted that Boston magazine also awarded her for her efforts in social justice:
Cannon-Grant, a mother of six, has emerged as a prominent figure in the Black Lives Matter movement in recent years. In 2020, she organized a march in Franklin Park that drew thousands of people to protest the deaths of Black people at the hands of police. She formed a collaboration with the restaurant Food for the Soul in Dorchester to distribute more than 1,000 free meals a day to people struggling during the pandemic.
For her efforts, she 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.
Her charity, VIB, does not have any known connection to the official Black Lives Matter group. In October, her husband was “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,” the Herald added.