On Tuesday morning, Monica Cannon-Grant, a prominent progressive activist in the Boston area, and her husband, Clark Grant, were federally charged and arrested on 18 counts of fraud and conspiracy in relation to her non-profit, Violence in Boston (VIB). 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 Boston Herald reported that the charges were announced Tuesday by U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins’ office in part related to a “scheme to defraud donors to their non-profit, VIB”:
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 the charges.
According to the paper, the couple is also being charged “in connection with 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 last week that 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.
Pressley, a member of “The Squad” whose district includes parts of Boston, was criticized in 2020 for her connection to Cannon-Grant after the activist, who reportedly served as Pressley’s campaign manager, blasted Pressley’s black GOP opponent for having a white husband, the Examiner added:
“This heifer running against Ayanna Pressley — this one here with the white husband. At some point, we going to have to have a conversation with black folks who get in a relationship with white folks and then forget that they black,” Cannon-Grant said.
“If white vagina and white penises jeopardize your melanin, then we need you to sit in the back of the classroom. … This ain’t your part of the show, and you don’t get to talk right now,” she added.
She later apologized, and despite those comments, the Globe named Cannon-Grant a “Bostonian of the Year” for her social justice activism. The paper noted last week 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.
Cannon-Grant is expected to appear in court sometime Tuesday afternoon.
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