Boston Activist Monica Cannon-Grant Pleads Not Guilty to Fraud Charges

The founder of Violence in Boston and her husband allegedly used funds from the nonprofit for their own expenses like groceries, gas, nail salons and travel

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Boston activist Monica Cannon-Grant and her husband appeared before a federal judge for a video arraignment Tuesday morning.

Cannon-Grant, 41, and Clark Grant, 38, both of Taunton, were charged in an 18-count indictment 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 earlier this month. The indictment also charges Cannon-Grant with one count of mail fraud.



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The couple pleaded not guilty to all of the charges on Tuesday. As terms of their release the judge ordered that they cannot work with any organization's finances. The case is scheduled to return to court in May.

Cannon-Grant and Grant are the founders of the local nonprofit, Violence in Boston, and are charged with defrauding the organization and its donors, the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance and a mortgage lending business based in Chicago, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Monica Cannon-Grant, a figurehead in Boston's activism community, and her husband are accused of spending their nonprofit's funds on themselves.

Cannon-Grant's lawyer, Robert Goldstein, said earlier this month that she has been "fully cooperating" and continues to produce relevant records from the nonprofit.

"We are extremely disappointed the government rushed to judgment here," he said. "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."

Violence in Boston was founded in 2017 with the goal of reducing violence, raising social awareness and aiding community causes in Boston. Cannon-Grant is the organization's CEO. Her husband is a founding director and until recently worked for a commuter services company.

Cannon-Grant’s activism, including the organization of a rally in the city in 2020 to protest the killing of George Floyd and other Black people by police, has earned her numerous awards, such as The Boston Globe Magazine’s Bostonian of the Year award, and a Boston Celtics Heroes Among Us award, both in 2020.

After someone attempted to kill Monica Cannon-Grant’s son, she quit nursing school, became an activist and started Violence in Boston Inc. to help victims of violence. Last week, the organization opened its first physical space to provide free legal and mental health assistance, a food pantry and other services for victims and families in need.

Prosecutors allege that the couple conspired to use the nonprofit as a means of soliciting and receiving charitable contributions which they then used for their own personal expenses and to enrich themselves. Those expenditures were allegedly concealed from Violence in Boston directors, officers and others.

The indictment says Cannon-Grant and Grant diverted money to themselves through cash withdrawals, cashed checks, debit purchases and transfers to their own bank accounts.

The indictment also alleges that Cannon-Grant and her husband conspired to defraud the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance by collecting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits while also collecting income from a variety of other services.

They allegedly coordinated the submission of false online applications and certifications for pandemic unemployment benefits, concealed their income and used the funds to pay for their joint household expenses and other personal expenditures.

They are also charged with defrauding an Illinois-based mortgage lender when applying for a home mortgage loan in July of 2021, submitting fraudulent documentation that represented Violence in Boston assets as their own.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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