Photo: Senator Katrina Robinson – Photo Credit: senatorkatrinarobinson / Instagram
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
The trial is underway for a Tennessee state Senator who has been charged with stealing over $600,000 in federal funds. Senator Katrina Robinson was charged with wire fraud, theft, and embezzlement in July 2020. The funds were received through a health care school that Robinson directed, and she was accused of using it for her wedding and other personal expenses.
The Senator pled not guilty after the FBI searched her house and the school.
Jury selection for the trial started on Monday, September 13.
Robinson is a democrat who was elected to the General Assembly in 2018. The school she directed, The Healthcare Institute, trains people for jobs in the healthcare field.
The school was given over $2.2 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
According to the FBI, the grants were first deposited into the school’s bank account.
Special Agent Matthew Pruitt said the funds were then “commingled indiscriminately with personal expenditure for the benefit of Robinson and her immediate family.”
Robinson used over $600,000 for her personal expenses from 2015 to 2019. This included her wedding, honeymoon, a new jeep for her daughter, traveling, and an event for her campaign.
Prosecutors said she also used the money to fund a snow cone business for her children, pay for home improvements, and pay the fees for her divorce.
She paid herself $169,134 over her annual salary, and put $54,000 into a personal retirement account.
Robinson’s attorney, Janika White, said the Senator will be fighting the charges.
“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,” Robinson said.
The Senate Democratic Caucus said her work on the General Assembly is “not in question” and she “deserves the presumption of innocence and due process.”
Robinson will face a possible 20 years in prison if convicted. She has also pled not guilty to tuition payment fraud in another case.
Students from The Health Care Institute wondered if the money that Robinson spent in grants was originally meant to help them.
One former student spoke to ABC 6, choosing to remain anonymous during the interview.
“We inquired, and they said you will be able to get scholarships up to $6,000 to $6,500, and the rest will be out of pocket. But we ended up having to pay the whole $10,000,” the student said.
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According to the indictment, some of the grants were meant to provide scholarships to low-income students so they could complete the nursing assistant’s program.
The student went on to say, “When I heard about the money being misused, I was just wondering if there was a case for us to be able to get our money back?”
At the time of her indictment, Robinson made a statement to Healthcare Institute students.
Robinson said, “To those students both past and present and future of the Healthcare Institute, I’m still committed to creating opportunities for you and your families.”
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com