Accused of stealing more than $600,000 in federal funds, a Tennessee state senator was recently indicted on embezzlement and wire fraud charges. According to the criminal complaint, the state senator illegally used the funds to purchase personal items for her and her family, including a vehicle for her daughter, a trip to Jamaica, and home electronics.
Serving as a member of the Tennessee Senate for the 33rd District since January 2019, Katrina Robinson is also the Director of The Healthcare Institute, a provider of educational and training programs for jobs in the healthcare field. The Memphis-based school received more than $2.2 million in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services between 2015 and 2019.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced that Robinson has been federally charged with theft and embezzlement involving government programs and wire fraud. She is accused of stealing more than $600,000 in federal funds from The Healthcare Institute and using the money for her own personal benefit and that of her immediate family.
Robinson reportedly used the stolen school funds to pay off her debts and purchase several personal items, including a Louis Vuitton handbag, beauty products, a 2016 Jeep Renegade for her daughter, $5,000 on a trip to Jamaica, expenses related to her wedding and honeymoon, and later, legal fees for her divorce. She is also accused of paying herself $169,134 more than she was allowed to under salary amounts permitted by the federal grant.
“Anyone who seeks to take advantage of government programs will be vigorously investigated by the FBI, regardless of who they are or any position they hold,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Jermicha Fomby of the FBI’s Memphis Field Office in a recent press release. “The public should know that the FBI will continue to work diligently with our law enforcement partners to identify and investigate those who seek to exploit government programs and line their own pockets.”
During a press conference on Wednesday, Robinson’s Attorney Kamilah White stated, “These are allegations. Senator Robinson has a story to tell. She’s eager to tell that story. We believe once all the facts come out and her story is told, she will be vindicated.”
The Senate Democratic Caucus issued the following statement related to the charges filed against Sen. Robinson: “It’s clear that Sen. Robinson’s work in the state legislature on behalf of her constituents is not in question here today. Just like every other American, Sen. Robinson deserves the presumption of innocence and due process under the law. Her case should be resolved by a court of law, not by the court of public opinion.”
If convicted, Robinson faces up to 20 years in federal prison, 3 years supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.