Violence in Boston, the nonprofit whose founders allegedly defrauded donors and committed unemployment fraud, has shut down.
The decision was announced in a statement posted to the charity’s website.
“I regret to inform you that Violence in Boston Inc will be suspending all programs and shutting down, effective immediately. I can’t speak on whether the decision to dissolve the organization was an easy one to make, as this decision was made by the Violence in Boston board of directors,” the statement read. It was not signed by any particular individual.
Activist Monica Cannon-Grant and her husband, Clark Grant, pleaded not guilty to their charges in March. They had been charged in an 18-count indictment earlier in the spring. The two allegedly spent donations to Violence in Boston on hotel reservations, gas, restaurant meals, food deliveries, nail salon services, and personal travel. They also allegedly collected about $100,000 in illegal unemployment benefits.
Both Grant and Cannon-Grant 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.
Grant was first arrested in October. He was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements on a loan and credit application.
Violence in Boston was formally established in 2017 with a mission of reducing violence, raising social awareness, and aiding community causes in Boston. Cannon-Grant served as CEO, while her husband was a founding director and also working full-time for a commuter services company, according to Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins’s office.
The pair allegedly conspired to use their nonprofit “as a vehicle to solicit and receive charitable contributions from institutional and individual donors.” The use of these funds for personal gain was allegedly concealed from Violence in Boston’s directors, among others.
Rollins’s office said that Cannon-Grant and Grant had exclusive control over Violence in Boston’s financial accounts from 2017 through at least 2020. They diverted money from the charity to themselves through cash withdrawals, cashed checks, debit purchases, and transfers to their personal bank accounts, officials allege.
Between 2017 and 2021, Cannon-Grant allegedly applied for both publicly and privately funded grants and donations numerous times, telling others that the money was to be used for charitable purposes.
In addition, they allegedly conspired to defraud the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance by collecting pandemic-related benefits while simultaneously collecting income from multiple other sources. These sources included Violence in Boston funds utilized for the pair’s personal expenses, consulting fees paid to Cannon-Grant, compensation paid directly by Violence in Boston to Cannon-Grant, and the annual salary paid to Grant by his full-time employer, according to Rollins’s office.
From May 2020 through 2021 the couple fraudulently applied for pandemic benefits that they knew they were not eligible to receive, officials allege. To do this, they allegedly submitted false online applications and certifications for pandemic relief funds, concealed their income, and created and submitted fake documentation in order to continue receiving weekly benefits. This money was allegedly used to pay for joint household expenses and other personal expenditures, Rollins’s office said.
Finally, officials allege that Cannon-Grant and Grant conspired to defraud an Illinois-based mortgage lender when applying for a mortgage loan in July 2021.
After the killing of George Floyd in 2020, Cannon-Grant rose to prominence, leading some of the city’s largest social justice rallies and providing food to the public. That year, Violence in Boston raised more than $50,000 just in April, WBUR reported.
The city of Boston and the Suffolk County district attorney’s office donated to Violence in Boston, according to WBUR. This includes a $53,000 grant from the Boston Resiliency Fund in 2020. Additionally, a $6,000 grant from the Suffolk County district attorney’s office intended for a 2019 violence prevention program instead funded a personal vacation to Maryland, officials allege.
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