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BLM activists in Boston facing even more federal fraud charges

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Screenshot of WCVB-TV YouTube video

A married couple in Boston who became heavily involved in the Black Lives Matter movement several years ago are now facing more than two dozen federal charges in connection to their activism.

A year ago this week, Monica Cannon-Grant and her husband, Clark Grant, were charged with 18 federal counts in connection to their organization, Violence in Boston. The pair founded VIB in 2017 with the stated goal of reducing violence, raising social awareness, and aiding community causes in Boston, according to NECN. VIB partnered with BLM in the ensuing years, especially in 2020. That June, VIB and BLM organized a Boston rally and vigil for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and thousands reportedly attended.

Though VIB was a nonprofit which had raised over $1 million, Cannon-Grant and Grant allegedly used a significant portion of those funds for personal use. The 2022 federal indictment claimed that the couple had spent that money on gas, restaurants, personal travel and hotel reservations, nail salon appointments, auto repairs, and ride-share services.

There are also allegations that the two lied on a mortgage application and that Cannon-Grant had received more than $10,000 in grant money from a department store but had spent at least a third of that money on her rent. The board of directors voted to shut VIB down last July, according to a statement on the group's Facebook page.

Now, federal prosecutors have added nine more charges against Cannon-Grant and Grant — 42 and 39, respectively — in connection to COVID relief funds. As in the previous indictment, the two are alleged to have spent the grant money on personal expenses.

They are also accused of defrauding other governmental agencies by misrepresenting their income. For example, until recently, Grant had been working full-time for a commuter services company, a job he had held since 2018, Boston.com reported. Despite his gainful employment, Grant "was receiving pandemic unemployment assistance (in addition to his salary)," according to a statement from the office of U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins.

The indictment also claimed that the couple lied about their household income so that they could secure $12,600 in rental assistance from the city and that they had forged an employment document to secure $44,000 in unemployment assistance for a family member. Federal officials estimate that, in all, Cannon-Grant and Grant and their co-conspirators fraudulently obtained more than $145,000 through various schemes.

The two now face a total of 17 counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy, and one count of making false statements to a mortgage lending business. Cannon-Grant also faces separate charges of mail fraud, filing false tax returns in 2017 and 2018, and failing to file tax returns in 2019 and 2020. If convicted, the couple could face decades in prison and upwards of $1 million in fines.

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