A Tennessee state senator has been charged with stealing more than $ 600,000 in federal money and using it to pay for campaigns and personal expenses, including her wedding, honeymoon and subsequent divorce, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Senator Katrina Robinson, 39, faces a number of thefts and embezzlements involving government programs and physical fraud, according to a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for West Tennessee.
The money in question was intended to fund a vocational school nursing training program run by Ms Robinson, but was instead squandered to add to her salary, help fund her other businesses and pay personal expenses, among other things, according to a declaration filed with the complaint.
According to the complaint, the health institute received more than $ 2.2 million in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, from 2015 to 2019. The health institute received a grant provided will be used to train nurses’ assistants to care for geriatric patients and to provide scholarships based on the needs of the program.
An investigation against Ms. Robinson began in 2016, when an anonymous complaint to the Department of Health and Human Services claimed she used $ 550 of the grant money to buy a Louis Vuitton bag, according to the report.
Based on bank records, investigators found evidence that Ms. Robinson gave herself a $ 25,400 performance bonus, paid more than her salary, and transferred $ 54,000 to a pension fund, according to billing documents. The discrepancies amounted to $ 169,134 more salary than should have been paid under the grant, according to court prosecutors.
“These costs require consultation and prior approval by the administration of health resources and services, none of which have occurred,” the complaint said. “Furthermore, according to representatives of the Health Resources and Services Administration, if approval had been requested for these products, it would not have been granted.”
Investigators found that the grant money was transferred to a separate bank account, from which “the legal costs of THI’s operations were indiscriminately transferred at personal expense to Robinson and her close family,” the complaint said, citing Institute of Health.
Among the items listed in the complaint, purchased with cash, were a 2016 Jeep Renegade – purchased for Ms. Robinson’s daughter – clothing and cosmetics, home furnishings – including a wrought-iron front door worth more than $ 5,000 – and equipment and consumables for her children’s snow cone business, Kool Kidz Konez.
The money was also used to pay Ms. Robinson and her family to travel to Jamaica, pay off their personal debt and fund an event in the state Senate campaign, the complaint continues.
The Health and Human Services launched an investigation and later joined the FBI, which filed a criminal complaint.
“Protecting the U.S. Treasury Department and federal grant programs against theft, fraud, waste, and abuse is a top priority for this service and the Department of Justice,” said D. Michael Duvant, U.S. attorney in the West District of Tennessee. said in a statement on Wednesday. “We welcome the FBI and HHS-OIG for their thorough and thorough investigation into this case.”
Janica White, Ms. Robinson’s lawyer, declined to comment on the specifics of the complaint, but noted that the lawsuit was not an indictment.
“As for Senator Robinson, she is very strong,” Ms. White said. “She is a fighter and she has been here, doing what we all want from people – to be active and to serve others. This is what she is doing, and all she can do right now is write it down and hope that people will allow the facts to unfold and allow her story to be told at the right time. “
The case is expected to be presented before a large court hearing, the prosecutor’s office said.
If convicted, Ms. Robinson could face up to 20 years in prison and a $ 250,000 fine.
Adam Kleinheider, a spokesman for Governor Randy McNally, who is a Republican, said that because of “serious criminal charges,” Mr. McNally would ask the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate.
In a statement, the Tennessee Democratic Senate said, “Senator Robinson’s work in the state legislature on behalf of her constituents is not in question today.”
“Like any other American, Senator Robinson deserves the presumption of innocence and due process,” the statement said. “Her case must be resolved by a court, not a court of public opinion.”