Crime

A director of the Violence In Boston nonprofit has been charged with unemployment & mortgage fraud

Clark Grant is also the husband of the nonprofit's founder, Monica Cannon-Grant, a well-known local activist.

The John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston. David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Clark Grant, a director of Violence In Boston — the prominent anti-violence nonprofit founded by his wife, local activist Monica Cannon-Grant — was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly committing unemployment fraud and making false statements to help obtain a mortgage.

Grant, 38, allegedly collected $67,950 in COVID-19 pandemic unemployment benefits between May 2020 and September 2021 although he was employed full time during that period, according to a 15-page criminal complaint filed in the Massachusetts U.S. District Court in Boston.

Federal prosecutors also assert that Grant made false statements to a mortgage lender to help secure a loan for a house he purchased in Taunton in July with Cannon-Grant, who is listed as his wife on land records filed with the Northern Bristol County Registry of Deeds.

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Grant appeared before Magistrate Judge Judith Dein on Tuesday afternoon, according to The Boston Globe. He did not enter a plea and Dein released him without bail.

Violence In Boston has emerged in recent years as an influential agency of resources for victims of violence in the city, and a leading voice in the local arm of the movement for racial justice that swept the nation after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police last year.

In April, Cannon-Grant was named one of the most powerful people in Boston by Boston magazine, and both Grant and Cannon-Grant were named among the Bostonians of the Year in 2020 by The Boston Globe Magazine.

Violence In Boston did not return a request for comment on Wednesday. According to her Twitter profile, Cannon-Grant is on maternity leave from the organization until January.

Christina Rosen, a special agent for the U.S. Department of Labor and Office of the Inspector General, alleges in the criminal complaint that Grant listed Violence In Boston’s bank account, with a balance of $461,548, as a personal asset when applying for a mortgage on a home with a sale price of approximately $410,000.

Bank records indicate Grant, who has served as a director of the nonprofit since 2017, had less than $1,000 in his personal bank account at the time, Rosen wrote.

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“Based on my training and experience, I believe that, as a director of the non-profit, Grant was aware that he could not claim the non-profit’s funds as his personal assets,” Rosen wrote.

Grant only revised his mortgage application and removed the account when the lender obtained bank records and other documents showing the account belonged to a non-profit.

Rosen’s complaint also says the lender determined Grant was receiving a salary from his employer and unemployment benefits simultaneously.

Grant sent a letter to the lender on July 6 that stated the unemployment payments “were due to the cleaning contracts that were cancelled due to COVID-19,” according to the complaint.

“Grant was aware the July 6, 2021 letter was false because Grant knew that the (unemployment) payments were due to his scheme to defraud (the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance), and not due to purported ‘Cleaning contracts,'” Rosen wrote. “When the July 6, 2021 letter was found insufficient to satisfy lending officials at the Mortgage Co., on July 13, 2021, Grant submitted his phony Independent Contractor Agreement … as well as another letter containing false statements.”

Grant, however, was ultimately given a $410,000 mortgage loan.

According to the complaint, around May 19, 2020, Grant filed a pandemic unemployment assistance claim, which asserted that he was diagnosed with or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, that he was providing care for a household or family member diagnosed with the virus, and that the illness limited his ability to work because he was self-employed.

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Grant also certified that he did not earn more than $89 a week between March 29 and May 16, 2020, despite being able and available to work, the complaint says.

Grant then certified on a weekly basis — approximately 68 times — through September 2021 that he was unable to work and did not earn any other income, officials say. However, he held a full-time job the entire time and even received promotions and pay raises during that period, eventually earning just shy of $70,000 annually as of July, prosecutors alleged.

Grant’s 2020 tax filing with the IRS filed in March 2021 showed Grant earned nearly $61,000 last year in wages from a position he worked in full time, according to the complaint.

When Grant was required to submit additional documentation and information to confirm his self-employment earlier this year, he allegedly submitted what Rosen asserted was a “sham” independent contractor agreement that listed an entity he claimed to do business with in Dorchester.

The address listed for the entity does not exist, nor could investigators find an individual with the name Grant provided as his contact there living in the United States, Rosen wrote in the complaint.

According to prosecutors, Grant was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements on a loan and credit application. The former carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of not more than $250,000, officials said.

For making false statements, Grant, if convicted, could be sentenced up to 30 years in prison, up to five years of supervised release, and pay a fine of up to $1 million, prosecutors said.

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In court Tuesday, Julie-Ann Olson, the public defender appointed to Grant, said her client is employed but is out on paternity leave until December, according to the Globe. Olson declined to comment further to the newspaper.

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