The Tennessee State Senator has been charged with stealing more than $ 600,000 in federal grant money and using it to pay for campaigns and personal expenses, including marriage, honeymoons and subsequent divorce.
Senator Katrina Robinson, 39, faces a number of thefts and embezzles involving government programs and fraud, according to a criminal report filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.
This money was intended to finance a training program for nurses at a vocational school run by Mrs Robinson, but was instead set aside to increase her salary, help finance her other businesses and, among other things, pay personal expenses. affidavit filed with the complaint.
Robinson, a Memphis Democrat elected in 2018, representing Shelby County, is, in addition to the State Senator, the director of the Medical Institute, a for-profit college that provides training programs for certified nursing assistants, phlebotomists and licensed practical nursing. , Robinson, a registered nurse, founded the school in 2015 according to its website.
According to the complaint, between 2015 and 2019, the Medical Institute was awarded more than $ 2.2 million in federal grants from the US Department of Health and Human Services, which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services. that it would be used to train nurses to care for geriatric patients and provide scholarships for this program as needed.
The investigation into Ms. Robinson began in 2016, when an anonymous complaint to the Department of Health and Human Services claimed that she had used a $ 550 grant from the grant to purchase a Louis Vuitton handbag, according to a statement of honesty.
Based on bank records, investigators found evidence that Ms. Robinson earned her a $ 25,400 bonus, paid more than her salary, and transferred $ 54,000 to a pension fund, according to accounting records. The irregularities amounted to $ 169,134 more wages than should have been paid under the terms of the aid, according to court attorneys.
“These costs required consultation with the management of medical resources and services and prior consent, none of which occurred,” the complaint said. “Furthermore, according to representatives of the medical resources and services administration, if these items were required, it would not be granted.”
Investigators found that the grant was transferred to a separate bank account, from which “legitimate expenses for THI operations were mixed without distinction with personal expenses for Robinson and her immediate family,” the complaint said, referring to the Health Care Institute.
Among the items listed in the complaint, which were purchased through grant money, was the 2016 Jeep Renegade – purchased for Ms. Robinson’s daughter – clothing and cosmetics, home accessories – including wrought iron front doors worth more than $ 5,000 – and equipment and supplies. children’s company dealing with snow cones, Kool Kidz Konez.
The money was also used to pay Ms. Robinson and her family to travel to Jamaica, pay off her personal debt, and fund a state senate action, and the complaint continued.
Health and human services began an investigation and were later joined by the FBI, which filed a criminal complaint.
“Protecting the U.S. Treasury Department and federal grant programs from theft, fraud, waste, and abuse is a top priority for the Office and the Department of Justice,” said D. Michael Dunavant, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. statement on Wednesday. “We commend the FBI and HHS-OIG for a thorough and thorough investigation in this case.”
Janika White, Ms Robinson’s lawyer, declined to comment on the specific details of the complaint, but noted that the claim was not an allegation.
“As for Senator Robinson, she is very strong,” said Mrs. White. “She’s a warrior, and she’s here to do what we all want people to do – get out and serve others.” She did that, and right now she can only stay on her record and hope that people will allow the facts to develop and that her story can be told at the right time. “
The case is expected to be referred to a grand jury, the prosecutor’s office said.
If convicted of Ms. Robinson, she could face up to 20 years in prison and a $ 250,000 fine.
Adam Kleinheider, a spokesman for Lt Gov Randy McNally, who is a Republican, said that because of “serious crimes,” Mr. McNally asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate it.
In a statement by Democratic Senator Tennessee, he said: “Senator Robinson’s work in the state legislature on behalf of her constituents is not in question today.”
“Like any other American, Senator Robinson deserves the presumption of innocence and due process under the law,” the statement said. “Her case should be settled by a court, not a court of public opinion.”