State Senator Katrina Robinson of Memphis has been charged with theft, embezzlement, and wire fraud in relation to federal funds, U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant announced on Wednesday.
Robinson, 39, represents Senate District 33 and is director of The Healthcare Institute (THI), which provides educational and training programs for healthcare jobs. The charges announced Wednesday relate to misappropriation for wholly personal use of some $600,000 in federal grants.
Robinson’s home and work offices and computer records had been the subject of two FBI evidence searches during the past year, the second of which took place this past week. A news release from Dunavant’s office says that Robinson used moneys earmarked for THI for such purposes as:
“a vehicle for her daughter; clothing, accessories, and hair and beauty products; expenses related to her wedding and honeymoon, and later, legal fees for her divorce; payments on her personal debts, including credit cards, store charge cards, student loans, and other personal loans; travel and entertainment for herself and her family; improvements to her personal residence; expenses related to a body aesthetics business she owned and a snow cone business operated by her children; and an event for her State Senate campaign.”
The press release included itemizations of these alleged misuses.
If convicted, Robinson could be sentenced up to 20 years in federal prison without possibility of parole. She could also receive a mandate for three years supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
Dunavant issued this statement: “Protection of the United States Treasury and federal grant programs against theft, fraud, waste, and abuse is a top priority of this office and the Department of Justice. We commend the FBI and the HHS-OIG for their diligent and thorough investigation in this case.”
Robinson was elected to her Senate seat in 2018, defeating long-term Democratic incumbent Reginald Tate, since deceased.
The state Senate Democratic Caucus issued this statement: "It's clear that Sen. Robinson's work in the state legislature on behalf of her constituents is not in question here today. Just like every other American, Sen. Robinson deserves the presumption of innocence and due process under the law. Her case should be resolved by a court of law, not by the court of public opinion."