Chair Of Southeastern Regional School Committee Was Accused Of Sleeping With 15 Year Old Girl, Arrested On Gun Charges, Had Orders Taken Out By Children, Lied About Being Bishop For Professional Gain 

 

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This is “Bishop” Anthony (Tony) Michael Branch.

He is the Brockton NAACP’s vice president, chair of the Brockton Commission on Diversity, serves on the boards of Haitian Community Partners, Cape Verdean Association of Brockton and the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending, is an alleged business owner and a radio host on WVBF Taunton (on Sundays). He was widely celebrated by the Brockton Enterprise when he became the first black person to be voted in as chair of the Southeastern Regional School District (Brockton, East Bridgewater, Easton, Foxboro, Mansfield, Norton, Sharon, Stoughton and West Bridgewater). Three weeks ago the Enterprise wrote a puff piece, chronicling his journey from homeless teen to well respected religious and civil rights leader.

Branch was appointed as a school committee member of the Southeastern Regional School District in 2016 and has been elected twice. He was elected by the committee as the new chairperson in November 2021. 

But Branch appears to be the Brockton version of Monica Cannon-Grant.

According to the article he became a minister at the age of 16 while living with his aunt in Boston, before getting his formal religious education in Hamilton, MA.

Branch started heavily investing his time in faith-based education and became a minister in 1983 at 16 years old. Branch later attended Roxbury Community College in 1984, while later formalizing his religious education at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which gave him the ability to grow mentally and see over the horizon, he said.

Just like Monica Cannon-Grant, Branch claims that he began to pursue his calling as a community activist after a shooting in his Roxbury neighborhood.

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His life took a dramatic turn after 12-year-old Darlene Tiffany Moore was murdered in 1988 on Humboldt Avenue in Roxbury, the victim of stray bullets fired by feuding drug dealers. The murder triggered a response from Branch and his community. It sparked the inner activist in Branch that had been hiding inside all those years, he said. From that day forward, Branch knew he had to do something. He co-founded CAP (Community Action Patrol) and Boston Communities of Color. He received a non-attorney award from the National Lawyers Guild for teaching the illegalities of Boston police’s “Stop and Frisk” policy to urban youth.

In December Governor Baker announced that the state would be distributing $4 billion in federal money for COVID relief. Committees on equity were put together to decide how that money would be distributed, and according to the Enterprise Tony Branch was appointed to oversee that.

In January Branch was appointed to Gov. Charlie Baker’s Federal Funds Equity & Accountability Review Panel overseeing $2.55 billion in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding. 

But as we chronicled earlier, Branch has lost over a dozen cases to creditors and banks for tens of thousands of dollars.

 

He also lost his license over non-payment of child support in 2016, and unsuccessfully attempted to sue the Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division.

He is currently suing me, and has previously sued a man who slept with his wife and got a restraining order against Branch, because the order damaged his reputation.

This begs the question – why is someone who can’t pay his own bills in charge of overseeing a $25 million school budge and $4 billion worth of federal grants?

But an even better question is, how did someone who’s been arrested on gun charges and was credibly accused of having sex with a 15 year old girl he groomed, become both a religious leader and the man in charge of a 9 municipality school district?

According to court documents out of Plymouth County Family and Probate Court, Branch went through a contentious divorce that began in 2013 and ended in 2016. Several things stated in the documents directly contradict statements Branch has made about himself during his recent rise to power.

The documents state that Branch received his high school equivalency degree in 1983, but makes no mention of him allegedly becoming a minister at the age of 16, which the Brockton Enterprise said he did. The documents also make no mention of his claim in the Enterprise that he “formalized his religious education at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary” in 1984, but does mention him going to community college for a year before getting various jobs.

 

Branch was 50 years old when he officially divorced his wife Evelyn Wiggins, who was 21 years his junior.

 

Alicia Kennerly was the mother of his two oldest daughters, Ronecia and Karliyah Branch. Evelyn Wiggins (his now ex-wife) was friends with Branch’s daughter Ronecia, which is how they met. Wiggins was listed as the adopted daughter of Kennerly’s great-aunt Bessie.

To review – his ex-wife and his baby momma both came from the same family, and his ex-wife was friends with his baby momma’s daughter.

According to Wiggins she began to have an “emotional” relationship with Branch when she was 14 and he was 35, and that relationship turned sexual when she was 15 when she had sex with him on the kitchen floor of Kennerly’s house (Kennerly is the mother of his children), which Wiggins had to “clean up” afterwards. Kennerly and both of Branch’s daughters also obtained abuse prevention orders against their alleged Bishop father shortly after the alleged kitchen deflowering.

 

In 2004 when she turned 18 Wiggins moved out of her adopted mother’s home to a friend’s apartment on Mass Ave, and a short time later moved in with Branch in Brockton when he obtained a Section 8 voucher. Branch denied that he had sexual relations with Wiggins before she turned 18 and moved in with him, but the judge determined that this was not credible. After living together for two years he lost his Section 8 voucher after admitting that he didn’t report his income accurately (also known as fraud).

It’s hard to fathom why an 18 year old would move in with a 39 year old man, who claimed to be gainfully employed but still qualified for Section 8, if she wasn’t in a relationship with him prior to that.

Wiggins also claimed that she told Branch she didn’t love him when they got married in 2007, but accepted his proposal because she was already pregnant. At the time the alleged Christian religious leader, who claimed to told the Brockton Enterprise that he become a minister at the age of 16 and received formal religious training by the age of 18, was a Muslim who went by the name of Anthony Malik Shabazz. He converted to Christianity in order to marry Wiggins and the two of them began attending something called Zion Fire Church.

Wiggins and Branch also attempted to defraud DCF for benefits by hiding their marriage, but her family refused to go along with the scheme which caused a riff. They bought a house in Brockton in 2009, and their second daughter was born the next year.

 

After moving in they opened their own church in their home called the Apostolic Meeting House of Brockton, and he became “re-involved” in a church founded by his aunt called “Refuge and Relief Ministries.” He claims that his aunt ordained him as a minister in 1986, despite being a Muslim in 1988, and telling the Brockton Enterprise that he became a minister in 1983.

Tony Branch has a YouTube channel that hosts videos of him preaching, like this one form 2011 where he yells in typical minister grifter talk while speaking about Jesus’ weight loss program.

Notice the sign in the background, “Tony Branch Ministries, The Apostolic Meeting House.” This was the “church” he founded in his home with his wife.

The aunt, who presumably ordained him, died in 2012. At that point he “became” a pastor, although it’s unclear how he did that, or why he wasn’t a pastor already since he claims he was ordained in 1986. The wife was also ordained a minister at that time. By October of 2012 Brother Branch “assumed” the title of Bishop, even though he admitted that he used this title before he was “sanctioned” in public.

This is notable because Tony Branch is currently suing me for a blog published on Turtleboy Sports in 2016 that called him a “fake bishop.” Yet Tony Branch himself admitted in court documents that he arbitrarily used the title “bishop,” he has no clergy serving underneath him, he was a Muslim for years, he openly violated several church teachings, and his alleged ordination was nowhere to be found.

He has not responded to any of our discovery requests to provide evidence that he is in fact a bishop. A public records request to find any documents that show Branch is licensed to perform weddings in Massachusetts show that no such records exist.

 

At some point between 2010 and 2012 Branch and Wiggins conspired to lie to their insurance company after Wiggins got into a car accident, in order to avoid liability.

This is not typically behavior you’d see from a real bishop.

Wiggins and Branch presented themselves on social media as a loving and happy family.

But Wiggins claimed that she did this because she feared “repercussions” from Branch if she didn’t.

In 2012 Wiggins began working for the Commission for the Blind in Boston, where she met Antonio Harris, who she would later have sex with at the Holiday Inn Express in Braintree, leading to the end of her marriage. Branch had sex with his wife one night after she slept with Harris in 2013, and he said the sex felt “disgusting.”

According to Wiggins, Branch became upset with her and punched her in the arm and leg when he found out that she was having an emotional affair with Harris. Brother Branch then went to Harris’ house with his young children in the car to confront him, and threatened to call the Governor’s Office to report the infidelity.

 

Branch was later hospitalized after he intentionally burned himself.

 

On April 22, 2013 police were called to the Branch household and his guns were taken from him.

 

The next day Harris got a Harassment Prevention Order against Branch after Branch kept calling Harris’ wife.

This is the same order that Branch would later sue Harris for obtaining. The lawsuit was dismissed.

Wiggins also obtained an abuse prevention order against Branch on May 8, 2013, which prohibited him from contacting her or going to her new house.

 

Wiggins alleged that he hit her in the past, changed her email and bank passwords, harassed her family, friends, and employer, and violated the order against him.

 

The abuse prevention order was extended for a full year on July 9, 2013, and extended for another year in 2014.

 

In 2015 Branch went on a dating site where he once again found a young (22), vulnerable woman named Lashaun Middleton, with a young baby, and immediately allowed her to move into his house within a month of knowing her. Three months later the police were called to their home at the request of DCF, Middleton gave the police ammunition that Branch never handed over to them as required by the order his ex-wife had out on him, and he was charged with possession of ammunition without FID and violation of an abuse prevention order. Middleton also got an abuse prevention order against Branch the next day, and Branch posted a picture of her on his Facebook page Toney Shabazz.

The Brockton Enterprise, which now writes glowingly about Branch, published a story in 2017 about this arrest because he was running for Brockton City Council. They also discovered that he owed more than $42K in taxes and had a federal tax lien on his property as a result. Branch ended up finishing in last place in the election. It’s notable that he sued Turtleboy two years later (2019) for a 2016 blog, blaming Turtleboy for his damaged reputation, even though the Enterprise had done much worse than that in 2017 by publishing court documents.

Wiggins filed another motion to suspend Branch’s parenting time after the gun charges, stating that Middleton claimed that he beat, choked, and abused the 7 month old baby. This was not supported and was denied, but Branch didn’t show up for the hearing and his parenting time was suspended anyway.

 

By April of 2015 Branch claimed he had almost no money, and owed over $126K in “various unsecured credit cards.”

Now he is in charge of a $25 million school budget, and is on a committee distributing $4 billion in federal grants.

To review, a man who alleges to be a religious and civil rights leader, who sits on city commissions, was appointed by the Governor to distribute federal aid, and who was recently appointed to head a regional School Committee, has been accused of, admitted to, or is guilty of the following:

  • Having sex with a 15 year old girl he groomed and later married, even though she claimed she was never in love with him
  • Impregnated the woman before marrying her
  • Shacking up with a vulnerable woman with a criminal record and a young baby, who he had just met on the Internet
  • Having orders placed against him by two his children, their mother, his ex-wife, the woman he shacked up with, and the man who had sex with his ex-wife
  • Owed over $100K in credit card debt, and $42K in unpaid taxes
  • Had gun charges filed on him and violated an abuse prevention order
  • Lying about being a bishop when he wasn’t
  • Told several contradictory stories about who ordained him as a minister and when
  • Turned his house into a church, which would mean its exempt from paying taxes
  • Defrauded the government to get Section 8
  • Tried to defraud DCF for benefits
  • Attempted to defraud an insurance company
  • Was a Muslim at one point before while also claiming to be a Christian minister, and still has a Facebook account that uses his Muslim name
  • Abuses the court system to silence people who criticize him

Do parents in Brockton, East Bridgewater, Easton, Foxboro, Mansfield, Norton, Sharon, Stoughton and West Bridgewater, who send their kids to the Southeastern School District schools know who is in charge of their children’s education? Or is diversity, equity, and inclusion more important than transparency? Feel free to reach out to other members of the School Committee and ask them why someone like this was appointed to the chair?

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