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May 18, 2022
 
Founders of Violence in Boston Charged with Fraud

March 15, 2022 — The founders of Violence in Boston, a Boston-based nonprofit that works to reduce violence and related trauma to people living in underserved communities, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with a series of alleged schemes designed to defraud the nonprofit, its donors, and others, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston announced today.

Monica Cannon-Grant, 41, and her husband 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, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. The indictment also reportedly charges Cannon-Grant with one count of mail fraud.

Cannon-Grant, who was arrested today, is due to make her initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Boston later today.

Cannon-Grant is the founder and CEO of Violence in Boston (VIB). Her husband is a founding director of VIB, and, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office, until recently was a full-time employee for a commuter services company since July 2018.

VIB was established in 2017, but has not electronically filed any Form 990 information with the Internal Revenue Service, as required by federal law. Two years ago, it opened a 4000-square-foot Social Impact Center in Hyde Park, which houses a food pantry and provides mental health services.

Grant was previously charged by criminal complaint in October 2021 with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements on a loan and credit application, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office, noting that an arraignment date for Grant has not yet been scheduled.

The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to use VIB, the U.S. Attorney’s office said, “as a vehicle to solicit and receive charitable contributions from institutional and individual donors that they then used for a wide range of personal expenses and to enrich themselves while concealing such expenditures from VIB directors, officers and others.”

Specifically, from 2017 through at least 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s office alleged, “Cannon-Grant and Grant exercised exclusive control over VIB financial accounts and diverted VIB money to themselves through cash withdrawals, cashed checks, debit purchases and transfers to their personal bank accounts.”

It added, “On numerous occasions between 2017 through 2021, Cannon-Grant allegedly applied for public and private funded grants and donations in which she represented the funds were to be used for VIB charitable purposes.” Instead, Cannon-Grant and Grant allegedly used grant and donation money to pay for personal expenses, including hotel reservations, groceries, gas, car rentals, auto repairs, Uber rides, restaurants, food deliveries, nail salons, and personal travel.

The defendants also allegedly conspired to defraud the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) by collecting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

“According to the indictment, beginning in or about May 2020 through 2021, Grant and Cannon-Grant fraudulently applied for PUA benefits, created by Congress in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, that they knew they were not eligible to receive,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

“The defendants allegedly coordinated the submission of false online applications and certifications for PUA funds, concealed their income, used the fraudulently obtained PUA funds to pay for their joint household expenses and other personal expenditures, and created and submitted phony documentation in order to continue receiving weekly PUA COVID-19 benefits.”

Additionally, the defendants allegedly conspired to defraud an Illinois-based mortgage lender when applying for a home mortgage loan last year by submitting to the mortgage lender “false information and fraudulent documentation that represented VIB assets as personal assets and concealed the fraudulent nature of Grant’s PUA income, as well as the fraudulent nature of gift funds Grant received in order to help pay for mortgage fees and closing costs.”

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