Tennessee State Sen. Katrina Robinson is facing serious charges after being accused of stealing more than $600,000 in federal grant money and then using the cash to pay for personal expenses, such as her wedding, honeymoon and later her divorce, as well as for campaign events, according to the New York Times.
According to the report, the money was meant for the Healthcare Institute, a nurse training program at a vocational school run by the senator. The Healthcare Institute was given some $2.2 million in federal grants from 2015 to 2019 to be used to train nurse assistants and to provide need-based scholarships.
However, instead, Robinson allegedly started stealing the money for her own personal gain, including to beef up her salary, fund her other businesses and pay for personal expenses.
When all was said and done, according to investigators, Robinson had given herself a $25,400 performance bonus and transferred $54,000 to a retirement fund. She also ended up with some $169,134 more in salary than she should have been paid.
“These expenses required consultation with, and prior approval from Health Resources and Services Administration, neither of which occurred,” the complaint against the senator read. “Further, according to Health Resources and Services Administration representatives, if approval had been sought for these items, it would not have been granted.”
Some of the personal expenses she allegedly paid for using the embezzled grant money include a 2016 Jeep Renegade for her daughter, home furnishings, and equipment and supplies for her children’s snow cone business. It also allegedly paid for a family trip to Jamaica.
Hours after the charges were announced, Robinson spoke out, stating that she intends to continue to serve her constituents.
“It is believed that if I were not in the position that I’m in, that if I did not champion the voices, the views and the faces that I represent, that I would not be in this moment right now with you today,” she said. “And for that reason I want to reassure all my constituents, those in the 33rd Senatorial District, those citizens of Shelby County, of Memphis, Tennessee, that I am committed to continuing to serve with the same integrity, the same passion that I’ve demonstrated since you elected me to this office.”
Her lawyer declined to go into details about the case, but told the Times that the senator is “very strong.”
“She’s a fighter and she’s been out here doing what we all want people to do — step up and serve others. That’s what she’s been doing, and right now all she can do is stand on her record and hope that people allow the facts to unfold and allow her story to be told at the appropriate time,” the attorney, Janika White, added.
If convicted, Robinson faces up to 20 years in prison, three years supervises released and a $250,000 fine.