A Democrat lawmaker is facing serious criminal allegations and could be looking at substantial time behind bars.
Tennessee state Sen. Katrina Robinson has been charged with stealing $600,000 in federal grant money and using it to cover a host of personal expenses and fund a lavish lifestyle, according to the New York Post.
Tennessee legislator accused
In addition to serving in the Tennessee legislature, Robinson is also the named director of an enterprise known as The Healthcare Institute, a vocational school that provides training for various positions within the nursing profession.
Federal prosecutors accuse Robinson of stealing grant money intended for the organization to instead pay for various personal expenses, including her wedding, her honeymoon, and her eventual divorce.
Robinson, for her part, has denied the allegations, and the Senate Democrat Caucus in Tennesee has already issued a statement of support and urged that she not be judged in the media, but be allowed her day in court.
The statement from the Caucus said, “Senator Robinson’s work in the state legislature on behalf of her constituents is not in question here today. Just like every other American, Senator 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.”
The Healthcare Institute had reportedly been awarded more than $2 million in federal grants for student training between the years of 2015 and 2019, according to the Post.
Lawmaker’s lavish lifestyle
Claims of Robinson’s alleged wrongdoing came to the attention of investigators via an anonymous complaint which accused Robinson of using some of that grant money to buy a designer bag.
A New York Times story on the matter stated that investigators found numerous irregularities in Robinson’s bank statements, and those ultimately aided in the filing of criminal charges.
Reports indicate that in her capacity with the Healthcare Institute, Robison gave herself a massive $25,400 salary bonus, transferred $54,000 to her retirement account, and was paying herself more than her officially allocated salary, and that was just the beginning of her self-dealing.
The official complaint against Robinson stated in part:
Payments and purchases included a vehicle for her daughter; clothing, accessories, and hair and beauty products; expenses related to her wedding and honeymoon, and later, legal fees for her divorce; payments on her personal debts, including credit cards, store charge cards, student loans, and other personal loans; travel and entertainment for herself and her family; improvements to her personal residence; expenses related to a body aesthetics business she owned and a snow cone business operated by her children; and an event for her State Senate campaign.
If Robinson is found guilty of theft, embezzlement, and wire fraud charges, she faces as much as a $250,000 fine as well as up to 20 years in prison.