BOSTON (CBS) – A federal grand jury has indicted Monica Cannon-Grant and her husband Clark Grant, the founders of Violence In Boston, on more than a dozen charges for allegedly using the nonprofit for their own benefit.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for Massachusetts announced on Tuesday that Cannon-Grant, 41, and Grant, 38, both Taunton residents, are facing charges as part of an 18-count indictment.
A grand jury found the couple allegedly led a series of schemes designed to defraud Violence in Boston donors, the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance, and a mortgage lending business based in Chicago.
Federal prosecutors allege the couple intended to use charitable donations for their personal benefit.
Charges included 13 counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements to a mortgage lending business. In addition, Cannon-Grant faces one count of mail fraud.
Grant was charged in October with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements on a loan and credit application.
Cannon-Grant was arrested Tuesday morning.
Founded in 2017, Violence in Boston said its purpose is to "to reduce violence, raise social awareness and aid community causes in Boston." Cannon-Grant is the founder and CEO of the organization, and Grant is a founding director.
Instead, prosecutors allege that from 2017-2021, Cannon-Grant used donation and grant money to pay for expenses such as hotel reservations, groceries, gas, car rentals, auto repairs, Uber rides, restaurants, nail salons and personal travel.
The couple is also accused of collecting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits despite having income from other sources. While collecting $100,000 of PUA benefits, Cannon-Grant and Grant were allegedly receiving income from Violence in Boston funds, consulting fees, and Grant's salary from a full-time job.
Cannon-Grant appeared in Boston federal court on Tuesday afternoon. She was allowed to leave following the brief hearing and an arraignment is scheduled for next week. An arraignment for her husband has not yet been set.
Cannon-Grant was silent as she walked out of the federal courthouse. Her attorney, Robert Goldstein, put out a statement. "We are extremely disappointed the government rushed to judgement here," he said. "We remain fully confident Monica will be vindicated when a complete factual record emerges."
According to court documents, Cannon-Grant and Grant presented themselves as unpaid leaders of the non-profit. But authorities say Cannon-Grant paid herself an income of $25,000 in 2020, and more than $170,000 in 2021.
Rayla Campbell, a political adversary and republican candidate for secretary of the commonwealth, stopped by the courthouse to air out her own complaints about Cannon-Grant. "You can see it's all about her and making herself happy, and it wasn't about taking care of the people and really standing up," Campbell said.
Some other Black activists are concerned Cannon-Grant's alleged actions will turn people away from their larger movement. "Philanthropic organizations, political figures, and others…may now be less likely to give to what they may perceive as a good cause," said Jamarhl Crawford. "You definitely have a right and really a duty to yourself and your family to find out what you're giving money to, what the cause is really about, and what the individual is really about, and what the organization is about, so that you're not just wasting money."
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