Founder of anti-violence nonprofit, husband, indicted

BOSTON (AP) — The founder of a Boston nonprofit established to reduce violence in the city, and her husband, used donations to the organization to enrich themselves, federal prosecutors said in a multicount indictment released Tuesday.

Monica Cannon-Grant, 41, and her husband Clark Grant, 38, of Taunton, used Violence in Boston Inc. funds to pay for personal expenses including, hotels, car rentals, auto repairs, restaurant meals, nail salons and personal travel, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

They also fraudulently applied for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits that they knew they were not eligible to receive because they had other sources of income at the time, and 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.

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 said.

Both were charged in an 18-count indictment with wire fraud, conspiracy, and making false statements to a mortgage lending business, prosecutors said. Cannon-Grant also faces a mail fraud count.

Cannon-Grant is scheduled to appear in federal court in Boston on Tuesday. Her attorney, Robert Goldstein, said he expects her to be vindicated.

“We are extremely disappointed the government rushed to judgment here,” he said in an email. “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.”

Grant was previously charged in October with illegally obtaining pandemic-related unemployment benefits and claiming that the nonprofit’s assets were his own in a mortgage application. His court date on the new charges has not been scheduled.

An email seeking comment was sent to his federal public defender.

A voicemail was left with Violence in Boston.

Violence in Boston was founded in 2017 with $1,000, according to its website.

“Violence in Boston’s mission is to improve the quality of life and life outcomes of individuals from underserved communities by reducing the prevalence of violence and the impact of associated trauma while addressing social injustices through advocacy and direct services,” the organization says on its website.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the nonprofit also distributed food.

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.

The Cummings Foundation, which features prominently on Violence in Boston’s website as a major donor for three-year, $100,000 grant last year, is cooperating with authorities and monitoring the situation, foundation Executive Director Joyce Vyriotes said.

The foundation, established by the founder of the commercial real estate firm Cummings Properties, has distributed one-third of the grant amount, but no decision has been made on whether the next third will be distributed, she said.

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