A steep fall for Cannon-Grant

Activist who rocketed to prominence arrested on federal fraud charges

FOR MONICA CANNON-GRANT, the limelight has proved to be a decidedly double-edged sword.

The long-time Black Boston activist rocketed to prominence amid the country’s racial reckoning of recent years. It was less than two years ago, in June 2020, that she led a massive march of thousands to Franklin Park to protest police violence in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  

That year, she was named a “Bostonian of the year” by the Boston Globe and named the city’s best “social justice advocate” by Boston Magazine. Today, she was arrested and named in an 18-count federal indictment alleging that she misused grants and donations to the nonprofit she founded, with the feds charging that money went for everything from financing her home mortgage to buying a relative a car.

Cannon-Grant was arrested at her Taunton home this morning. Her husband, Clark Grant, is also charged in the indictment. (Last October, Grant was separately indicted on federal charges of mortgage fraud and making fraudulent claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.) 

The nonprofit she founded, Violence in Boston Inc., rode the prominent recognition of recent years to fast growth. The Globe reported last week that the organization, which started with $1,000 in 2017, now has a 4,000-square-foot headquarters in Hyde Park. It quoted Cannon-Grant speaking last week on a Web radio show calling it a “multimillion-dollar organization.” 

Among its activities, the organization ran a food pantry for needy families.

Cannon-Grant’s attorney, Robert Goldstein, suggested the indictment is a rush to judgment.

“VIB and Monica have been fully cooperating and their production of records remains ongoing,” Goldstein said in a statement, according to the Globe. “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. We remain fully confident Monica will be vindicated when a complete factual record emerges.”

Violence in Boston obtained grants to support its work from a variety of private and public sources, including the city of Boston and the Suffolk County district attorney’s office. 

But now Cannon-Grant stands accused of diverting those funds and using them on a long list of personal expenses, including hotel reservations, groceries, car rentals, nail salons, and personal travel. The indictment also now charges Cannon-Grant with mortgage fraud and fraudulently seeking Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – charges that her husband first faced in an October indictment. 

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

Cannon-Grant has been no stranger to controversy. She led protests in Hopkinton alleging that Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan was mishandling the investigation into the death of Mikayla Miller, a 16-year-old Black resident of the town. Cannon-Grant called for Ryan to be removed from oversight into the case, which has been ruled a suicide. She also went on an expletive-filled rant in a video social media post against a Black Republican woman who was challenging US Rep. Ayanna Pressley, filled with explicit comments about the woman having sex with her white husband. 

After the Globe reported last week that Cannon-Grant was under federal investigation, she took to Twitter, calling it a “hit piece” filled with mistruths from a paper that had once lauded her work.