Democrat lawmaker in Tennessee charged with theft of federal funds

A prominent Tennessee Democrat is facing some serious criminal allegations, with the New York Post reporting that state Sen. Katrina Robinson stands accused of absconding with $600,000 in federal money.

Federal prosecutors said on Wednesday that Robinson’s pattern of theft began in 2015 and continued until 2019, with the lawmaker embezzling grant money intended for a private vocational school she founded called The Healthcare Institute.

Serious crimes alleged

According to prosecutors, Robinson used unlawfully obtained funds to cover the costs of her wedding, honeymoon, and divorce as well as to facilitate the purchase of various luxury items and a 2016 Jeep Renegade for her daughter.

Other expenditures are reported to have benefitted a snow cone business owned by her children, paid for a host of home improvements, funded personal travel, and covered various entertainment costs.

Local Memphis CBS affiliate WREG quoted a response from Robinson in which she not only denied any wrongdoing but made some incendiary accusations of her own, suggesting that the charges against her are politically motivated.

“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 insisted at press conference on Wednesday, according to WREG.

Attorney: She’s still human

Robinson’s attorney, Janika White, remarked, “Sometimes we criminalize activity that may not have any criminal intent,” adding, “Senator Robinson, she’s human. She’s still human.”

The state senator went on to tell her constituents that she plans to “serve with the same integrity, the same passion that I have demonstrated since you elected me to this office.”

The CBS affiliate also quoted a statement from the state’s Senate Democratic Caucus that stressed, “It’s clear that Sen. Robinson’s work in the state legislature on behalf of her constituents is not in question here today,” also adding:

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.

Robinson was first elected to represent Tennessee’s 33rd district in 2018 after defeating incumbent Reginald Tate in that year’s primary race, according to The Tennessean.

A cautionary tale

Tate’s predecessor, Kathryn Bowers, also had a controversial history as well and chose not to run for re-election in 2006 following an arrest for driving under the influence. She later pleaded guilty to bribery as well, according to the Washington Post.

If the allegations are true, hopefully the citizens of Tennessee will see justice done in the case, and Robinson’s story will serve as a cautionary tale to other elected officials they have entrusted with public funds.

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