Boston, MA – A husband-and-wife activist team who founded a social justice nonprofit in Boston are facing a whole slew of federal fraud charges for using the organization’s money to fund their personal expenses.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that 41-year-old Monica Cannon-Grant and her husband, 28-year-old Clark Grant, were indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday, MassLive reported.
The indictment on March 15 alleged that the founders of Violence in Boston used the nonprofit “as a vehicle” to pay for manicures and pedicures, vacations, and thousands of dollars in meals at Bubba Gump Shrimp, Shake Shack, and other restaurants.
Federal investigators said Cannon-Grant and Grant solicited and received public and private funding and donations to support Violence in Boston’s activism but used the money for hotels, groceries, gas, car rentals, car repairs, Uber rides, meals, and food deliveries instead, MassLive reported.
Investigators said the couple never disclosed to employees, bookkeepers, or financial auditors that they had used the money for personal purposes.
Prosecutors said Cannon-Grant and Grant also collected about $100,000 in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance while earning income through a variety of other channels, including paychecks from Violence in Boston, MassLive reported.
The couple told donors and grant writers that the nonprofit did not pay salaries.
Federal investigators said the couple’s scheme to defraud began in 2017 when they received a $10,400 grant from a department store to pay for meals for needy children in public schools, MassLive reported.
Court records showed that Cannon-Grant and her husband never told bookkeepers at Violence in Boston that they had received the grant money.
They used some of the money to pay $3,000 in back rent three days after they got the check, according to charging documents.
Violence in Boston also got a grant funded by the Massachusetts District Attorney’s office to bring a group of at-risk young men and two adult social workers from Roxbury to Philadelphia to participate in a three-day “Violence Prevention Retreat,” according to MassLive.
Prosecutors said Cannon-Grant and Grant used the $6,000 for a $145 salon visit, $400 in items at a Maryland Walmart, hundreds of dollars in meals at restaurants, and a $1,200 hotel stay.
Court records showed federal investigators found a $3,000 donation from a Cambridge-based Black Lives Matter group meant to feed poor children went to a family member of the couple instead, MassLive reported.
Federal investigators said the couple used tens of thousands of dollars in donations to Violence in Boston to pay for personal cell phone bills, Amazon purchases, meals, gas, car insurance, Uber charges, ATM withdrawals, clothes at Old Navy and TJ Maxx, and shopping at the Apple Store.
Prosecutors said it appeared that the misappropriated funds were what kept the couple financially afloat and pointed to the fact that Cannon-Grant had only $35 in her checking account on Aug. 13, 2019 when she deposited a $500 check meant for a Black Women & Marginalized Genders conference, according to MassLive.
Court records showed that as Violence in Boston raised more money, the couple “began to help themselves to greater amounts” and used it to buy a car, pay rent, and make hundreds of orders from UberEats.
Cannon-Grant was charged with two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, one count of conspiracy, 13 counts of wire fraud, and one count of making false statements to a mortgage lending business, MassLive reported.
Grant is facing the same charges plus an additional count of mail fraud.
Cannon-Grant played dumb when the Boston Globe asked her about the federal investigation last week.
“I’m clueless to what you’re talking about,” she said, and then later claimed during a radio interview that she has been targeted by the government, white supremacists, and a group of black people jealous of how successful she has become.