Boston BLM activist Monica Cannon-Grant asks court to allow her to apply for unemployment benefits
A Black Lives Matter activist whose Boston non-profit was shut down amid a federal fraud case against her after she allegedly blew thousands in charity donations on dinners, vacations and nail salon trips, is now requesting to apply for unemployment benefits.
Monica Cannon-Grant, 41, the former head of the non-profit ‘Violence in Boston,’ and her husband, Clark Grant, 38, were federally indicted in March for allegedly soliciting millions of dollars in donations following the 2020 killing of George Floyd that they used for their own personal gain.
They’re also accused of illegally collecting an estimated $100,000 in pandemic unemployment benefits and lying on a mortgage application.
In the 18-page indictment handed down by a federal grand jury in March, conditions for Cannon-Grant’s release included that she ‘not apply for, or facilitate the application for, any unemployment benefits unless approved by the Court,’ according to the Boston Herald.
But on Wednesday, Cannon-Grant’s attorney, Robert Goldstein, filed a motion asking to amend those terms, stating that Cannon-Grant ‘is currently unemployed and would like to apply for unemployment benefits.’
Monica Cannon-Grant, 41, pictured at a September 2020 BLM rally, whose anti-violence charity was shut down last month amid a federal fraud case against her, is now requesting to apply for unemployment benefits
In an 18-page indictment handed down by a federal grand jury in March, conditions for Cannon-Grant’s release included that she ‘not apply for, or facilitate the application for, any unemployment benefits unless approved by the Court’
Cannon-Grant’s attorney, Robert Goldstein, just filed a motion asking to amend those terms, stating she ‘is currently unemployed and would like to apply for unemployment benefits’
‘The government does not object to the defendant’s application for unemployment benefits so long as any such application is done in accordance with the law,’ Goldstein wrote in the filing.
Once named a Bostonian of the Year by the prestigious Boston Globe newspaper, was released on personal recognizance.
Cannon-Grant and her husband founded nonprofit Violence in Boston in 2017, which received significant attention at the height of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in 2020.
After Floyd’s killing, the subsequent surge of donations saw Cannon-Grant’s BLM foundation go from small, scrappy movement to maturing institution. Other organizations, like Cannon-Grant’s ‘Violence in Boston,’ also saw growth.
The couple maintained exclusive control over organization finances, and did not disclose to other Violence in Boston directors, bookkeepers, or financial auditors that they had used the funds for their own purposes, prosecutors added.
In March, the couple was arrested at their $450,000 Taunton residence. It remains unclear if funds given to the non-profit organization were used to buy the five-bedroom home, which was purchased in 2021, at the height of their alleged scamming.
Monica Cannon-Grant, 41, (pictured) along with her husband, Clark Grant, 38, of Taunton, Massachusetts, appeared at their arraignment virtually Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to fraud charges detailed in an 18-count indictment handed down earlier this month
Monica Cannon-Grant is pictured outside a Boston federal courthouse in March where she and her husband were charged with 18 counts of fraud totaling $1m
They were 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. Cannon-Grant was also charged with one count of mail fraud. They pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Cannon-Grant also faces one count of mail fraud. She claims to have previously filed to the IRS and the state attorney general’s charity division that she has not been receiving a salary.
However, prosecutors said that in October 2020, Cannon-Grant was paying herself $2,788 per week.
The indictment released in March, details the activist spending ‘$145 at a Boston nail salon, over $400 in grocery and Walmart purchases in Columbia, MD, hundreds of dollars in meals costs in Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland, including at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Shake Shack, and other restaurants; $1,211 in charges at the Sonesta Suites, Columbia, MD, hundreds of dollars in fuel, parking and car rental costs; and hundreds of dollars in ATM withdrawals…’
Cannon-Grant claimed the charity didn’t pay any salary, but indictment alleges that she paid herself $2,788 a week, taking home $25,096 in 2020 and $170,092 last year, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.
Cannon Grant, a mother of six, was once given the ‘Bostonian of the Year’ award by The Boston Globe Magazine and hailed as the city’s ‘best social justice advocate’ by Boston Magazine
Cannon-Grant (R) speaks to protesters about their movement with the photos of people who have lost their lives, including George Floyd, to police racism across the US at Franklin Park in Boston, Massachusetts on June 2, 2020
Cannon-Grant also received $33,426 in pandemic funds, the indictment read. She also received thousands of dollars in consulting fees to promote ‘diversity’ programs at private companies.
One of those payments included a $75,000 grant from a media company in Boston, called the Phantom Gourmet television program.
‘Unemployment caught my ass. Asked me to provide documents by June unless I’ll have to pay it all back,’ Cannon-Grant told her husband through text message on March 26, 2021, after realizing she’d been busted, according to prosecutors.
Cannon-Grant, 41, and her husband Clarke Grant, 38, were arrested at their home in Taunton, Massachusetts in March. It is unclear if any money from donations provided to Violence in Boston was used to purchase the $450k and five-bedroom property
The couple also lied to a mortgage lender by saying Violence in Boston’s assets were their own to help pay for fees and closing costs. Pictured: the interior of the Grants’ Taunton home
Cannon-Grant and her husband are said to have misappropriated grants intended for their charity, including a $6,000 check given to them by Suffolk District Attorney’s office in June 2019, intended to be spent on a retreat for young men feared to be at risk of falling into crime.
The retreat was supposed ‘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,’ according to her grant proposal.
Instead, Cannon-Grant and Grant treated themselves to meals at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Shake Shack, as well as a three-night trip to Maryland that included a $1,200 hotel stay, it is claimed.
Cannon-Grant is also said to have used some of the cash on multiple trips to a Boston nail salon, as well as car rentals, groceries and trips to Walmart.
Another alleged incident in 2017 saw $3,000 of a $10,000 donation for needy children spent on paying the couple’s rent arrears, it is claimed.
Cannon-Grant and her husband also fraudulently applied for $100,000 federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits that they knew they were not eligible to receive because they had other sources of income at the time, it is alleged.
They also lied to a mortgage lender by saying Violence in Boston’s assets were their own to help pay for mortgage fees and closing costs, prosecutors said.
Cannon-Grant is also said to have paid herself $2,700-a-week and treated herself to a $450,000 five-bed house in Taunton, Massachusetts
Cannon-Grant’s received thousands of dollars in consulting fees, promoting ‘diversity’ programs, public speaking forums and public appearances through her Link Tree
The BLM Foundation has also faced intense scrutiny over financial transparency in the past year, and leaders admitted that they had not been clear about the movement’s finances and governance over the years.
BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors stepped down as executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network last year amid scrutiny of her $3.2 million property empire.
The foundation has since opened up about such matters. It says the fiscal sponsor currently managing its money requires spending be approved by a collective action fund, which is a board made up of representatives from official BLM chapters.