Grand jury indicts Tennessee state senator on theft charges

Tennessee News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee state senator was indicted Thursday on dozens of counts of stealing more than $600,000 in federal funds received by a health care school she directed and using the money to pay for personal items and expenses.

A federal grand jury in Memphis handed down the indictment against Democratic state Sen. Katrina Robinson, one day after the U.S. attorney’s office unsealed a criminal complaint alleging she used grant money earmarked for health care worker training to pay for her wedding and honeymoon, home improvements, a Jeep Renegade for her daughter, her children’s snow cone business, a campaign event, legal fees for her divorce, and other things.

The indictment includes 24 counts of theft and embezzlement involving government programs, and 24 counts of wire fraud, U.S. attorney Michael Dunavant said in a statement.

Robinson, a Democrat elected to the General Assembly in 2018 from a Memphis district, is the director of The Healthcare Institute, which provides training for health care industry jobs, prosecutors said.

The Memphis-based school received more than $2.2 million in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The FBI said Robinson took $600,000 from the school’s operating account.

During a news conference Wednesday, Robinson’s attorney Janika White said Robinson would be vindicated. Robinson said she will continue serving her district in the Senate “with the same integrity, the same passion that I’ve demonstrated since you’ve elected me to this office.”

Lt. Governor Randy McNally will be asking the Senate Ethics Committee to look into the “serious criminal charges,” spokesman Adam Kleinheider said in an email.

If convicted, Robinson faces a possible sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison. Robinson would be up for re-election in 2022.

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