Image Credit: capitol.tn.gov
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
A federal judge agreed to grant a temporary delay for the sentencing hearing of former state Representative Robin Smith until January 30, 2023. The delay was approved so she can testify against former House Speaker Glen Casada.
In March, Smith pleaded guilty to honest services fraud in relation to an alleged scheme of bribery and kickbacks that involved Smith, Casada, and Cade Cothren, Casada’s former chief of staff.
Allegations state that Smith, who formerly served as a Tennessee Republican Party chair, participated with Casada and Cothren in a conspiracy to create a fake company to participate in Tennessee’s constituent mail program, which is funded by public dollars. Charges include wire fraud, money laundering, theft of federal funds, bribery, and kickbacks.
The group is said to have received approximately $52,000 of taxpayer funds.
Prosecutors say Cothren created Phoenix Solutions, LLC, a fake political vendor. The scheme was supported by Casada and also involved Smith. Indictments against Casada and Cothren show email exchanges made by the three, discussing their plans.
Cothren allegedly used a fake name – “Matthew Phoenix” – to operate the company, including using the name on an IRS I-9 form. According to that form, making false claims is a federal offense.
The sentencing hearing was scheduled for October 17, with Casada’s trial to follow on October 25.
Smith’s attorneys said, “the plea agreement…contemplates the defendant will cooperate with the government in this and related cases. It is anticipated the defendant will testify in United States v. Casada.”
It is expected that Smith will be a key witness in the case, providing important evidence against Casada and Cothren, both of whom pleaded not guilty to nearly 20 charges last week in federal court.