Federal authorities announced this week that Democratic Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson has been charged with theft and embezzlement.
According to the indictment, the Democratic lawmaker allegedly stole $600,000 from The Healthcare Institute, where she served as a director.
The institute received $2.2 million in grants and Robinson has been accused of using a chunk of the funds for personal use, such as purchasing lavish gifts for herself and taking her family on vacation.
She could face up to 20 years in prison.
According to the indictment, Robinson used the stolen funds to buy a 2016 Jeep Renegade automobile for her daughter, a $5,000 wrought iron front entry door for her home, clothing, accessories, and beauty products. She also used the stolen funds to finance her wedding, honeymoon, and the legal fees for her divorce, according to the indictment.
“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 Memphis Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“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.”
Robinson faces a sentence of up to 20 years and $250,000 fine.
According to the indictment, Robinson also used the funds stolen from the institute to pay off her credit cards and student load, finance travel and entertainment for her family, pay for expenses related to her children’s snow cone business, and an event for her State Senate campaign.
The Department of Health and Human Services opened an investigation into Robinson in December 2016 after receiving a complaint stating that she bought a $550 Louis Vuitton bag using the institute’s funds.
“Protection of the United States Treasury and federal grant programs against theft, fraud, waste, and abuse is a top priority of this office and the Department of Justice,” U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said.
Robinson is an advocate for mail-in voting. She introduced a bill in June which would allow anyone with concerns about the pandemic to request a mail-in ballot.
“Every part of our society has had to urgently adapt and respond, and our elections are no exception,” she wrote in an op-ed on June 5. “We cannot allow the decisions made by the legislature to continue to be driven by politics and not by data and science.”
President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr have both said that mail-in voting increases the risk of voter fraud.
Robinson left Tennessee for six weeks beginning in March to help with the pandemic response at New York’s Bellevue Hospital.
Memphis Democratic Sen. Katrina Robinson charged with theft, embezzlement related to her for-profit nursing school, which received multi-million-dollar federal grant https://t.co/JcvRjs5rXT
— Stephen Elliott (@ElliottStephenB) July 29, 2020
LAVISH LIFE STYLE ON THE US TAXPAYER: A Tennessee Democratic State Senator, Katrina Robinson was charged with swindling $600,000 in federal funds to pay for her wedding and finance a lavish lifestyle!
— John Cremeans (@JCremeans) July 30, 2020