Two BLM activists are charged with an 18-count indictment including wire-fraud associate with another charitable group, conspiracy and making false statements to a mortgage company. It comes after BLM has faced on-going controversy over a worrying lack of financial transparency.
Monica Cannon-Grant, 41 and her husband Clark Grant, 38, allegedly used chunks of the funds they collected for their non-profit organization Violence in Boston, which amounted to around $1m in total, to splash out on meals at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., hotels, car rental, nail salon treatments, and vacation travel.
Cannon-Grant’s yearly salary mysteriously sky-rocketed from $25,000 in 2020 to $170,000 in 2021, and the charity leader allegedly paid herself a cool $2,700 a week.
Last year, she dished out for a luxurious $450,000 five-bed house in Taunton, Massachusetts.
A prominent BLM activist who regularly made public speeches on the group’s behalf, Cannon-Grant founded the charity Violence for Boston in 2017, but like many small, African-American based orgnizations, funding and attention rose significantly after the controversial killing of George Floyd in 2020.
The allegations made against Cannon-Grant and her husband include the pair using a $6000 donation to their cause from Suffolk District Attorney’s office in 2019 which was supposed to help fund a camp for youths at risk of falling into a criminal lifestyle;
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“to give these young men exposure to communities outside of the violence riddled neighborhoods that they navigate daily’ and give them exposure to activities focused on community-building and coping techniques”, said the proposal for the grant.
Instead, prosecutors say Cannon-Grant and her husband treated themselves to numerous meals at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, visits to a nail salon, car rentals, grocery shopping, dinners at Shake Shack and a further $1,200 on a 3-day vacation to Maryland.
In addition to this, it is claimed the couple attempted to collect $100,000 in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits despite having undeclares sources of income. For this, she was charged with illegally obtaining around $67,950 in unemployment benefits.
“Unemployment caught my ass. Asked me to provide documents by June unless I’ll have to pay it all back,” she texted her husband in March 2021 upon realizing she had been caught out.
The couple also allegedly lied to a mortgage lending agent by claiming that Violence for Boston’s assets were their own, and in 2017, snatched $3000 out of a $10,000 fund for poor kids, instead using it to pay their rental costs.
Cannon-Grant, who was ironically once named Bostonian of the Year by the Boston Globe newspaper, and her husband were arrested at her luxurious home last week. The pair were in court on Monday to answer the allegations against them.
Judge Judith Dein ruled Cannon-Grant could continue to work for Violence for Boston but must not be involved in the charity’s finances. She was released on her own recognizance.
Speaking of the court’s decision, Cannon-Grant’s attorney, Robert Goldstein said:
“We are extremely disappointed the government rushed to judgment here,”
“VIB and Monica have been fully cooperating and their production of records remains ongoing. 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.”