New Federal Fraud, Money Laundering Charges Against Tennessee State Senator

If Convicted, Robinson And Her Co-Defendants Each Face Up To 20 Years In Federal Prison Followed By Three Years Of Supervised Release.

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

Photo: Tennessee state Sen. Katrina Robinson, D-Memphis

Published January 20, 2021

The Center Square [By Vivian Jones]-

The U.S. Department of Justice announced two new federal charges Tuesday against Tennessee state Sen. Katrina Robinson, D-Memphis.

Separate from her indictment last July, Robinson, along with two co-defendants, was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Robinson, 40, is accused of working with Katie Ayers, 59, and Brooke Boudreaux, 32, to steal $14,470 from a victim identified as “R.S.”

According to the complaint, Boudreaux and Robinson met with the victim, with whom Boudreaux already had a relationship, and claimed Boudreaux needed tuition to attend Robinson’s health education business, The Healthcare Institute. Boudreaux never enrolled, and according to the complaint, the three later divided the money amongst themselves.

The DOJ released records of text messages sent between Robinson and Ayers from late 2017.

“How much money do you need to get out of this transaction?” reads a message sent from Robinson’s phone to Ayers’ phone Nov. 14, 2017.

“What’s the most for all classes?” Ayers responded.

“I was asking so I know how much to charge him so I can get some cash,” Robinson replied.

If convicted, Robinson and her co-defendants each face up to 20 years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release. The case is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee and has not yet been presented to a grand jury to consider indictment.

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The charges unsealed Tuesday come in addition to 48 counts of wire fraud and embezzlement on which Robinson was indicted last July. According to the federal complaint, Robinson allegedly misused more than $600,000 in federal grant funds meant for The Healthcare Institute on personal expenses, including clothing and beauty products, a vehicle, wedding and honeymoon expenses and legal fees for her divorce.

Robinson was scheduled to host a virtual workshop Friday on economic empowerment, featuring topics including financial literacy, credit education and starting a small business. The event has been postponed until further notice.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally recently told the Chattanooga Times Free Press if legislators are indicted in a case related to a separate FBI investigation, they should resign.

“The charges against Senator Robinson predated her tenure in the General Assembly and were not directly related to her service in office,” McNally spokesperson Adam Kleinheider told The Center Square in an email. “If there are arrests in the current investigation and those charges took place during their tenure as legislators or are related to their service as lawmakers, it is Lt. Gov. McNally’s personal opinion that they should resign.”

Robinson recently was elected secretary of the Tennessee Black Caucus and has billed the state for 10 times more in legislative travel expenses than any other state legislator since taking office in 2019.

About the Author:

Vivan Jones, The Center Square Staff Reporter

Vivian Jones reports on Tennessee and South Carolina for The Center Square. Her writing has appeared in the Detroit News, The Hill, and publications of The Heartland Institute.

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