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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Here is what State Senator Katrina Robinson spent your money on, according to the feds

Indictment alleges Sen. Robinson spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on trip to Jamaica, her wedding and then divorce, a cash bonus, Grizzlies tickets, and more

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A federal grand jury officially handed up an indictment of Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson Thursday. It comes just one day after U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant announced Robinson had been charged with stealing more than $600,000 in federal funds.

Grizzlies tickets, a trip to Jamaica, even a Jeep. You paid for it and a lot more of state Senator Katrina Robinson's purchases, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. That money that was supposed to be used for the nursing school she runs.

Robinson will appear before a federal judge next week. In addition to her legal troubles, it sounds like she will face a legislative inquiry.

"I ask you give me your thoughts and prayers, your prayers more than anything," said Sen. Robinson.

Wednesday, Robinson made that appeal to her supporters shortly after the charges were announced.

According to the criminal complaint, Robinson stole and embezzled money from the Healthcare Institute, a nursing school she founded. Last February, Local 24 News was there when federal agents raided the school and her home.

From 2015 to 2019, the school received $2.2 million in grants. The feds say she used about a quarter of it for her personal use.

They say your tax money paid for:

  • $5,000 wrought iron front door at her home.
  • $33,188 was spent in clothing, shoes, hair and beauty products.
  • $8,981 was paid to the Memphis Grizzlies for tickets and seats for other events.
  • $5,000 for a trip to Jamaica.
  • $900 Carnival cruise payment.
  • Thousands of dollars in credit card bills were paid to a variety of clothing stores with the money along with a Jeep for her daughter.

The complaint says taxpayers paid thousands of dollars for fees associated with her 2016 wedding, including $1,350 for her wedding videographer. About a year later, the feds say she used $14,233 of the grant money to pay legal fees for her divorce.

Your tax money also was used to buy a house on Boeingshire for $46,163 and almost another $10,000 to renovate it.

Robinson's day spa appears to be closed now, but according to the feds, the grant money paid for the construction, remodeling, rent, and utilities.

The complaint says Robinson also used the grant money to give herself a $25,000 bonus and put $54,000 in an individual retirement account.

The grant money was used to buy supplies for her kids’ snow cone business and, according to the complaint, almost $2,300 was spent to hold a state senate campaign event. Robinson’s lawyer called the charges broad and overreaching.

"Sometimes we criminalize activity that may not have criminal intent," said Janika White, Robinson's attorney.

Robinson may have more than legal problems. We’re told the Tennessee Lt. Governor plans to ask the Senate Ethics Committee to look into this matter. A statement from Adam Kleinheider, spokesman for Lt. Governor McNally said, “Due to the fact that these are serious criminal charges, Lt. Governor McNally will be asking the Senate Ethics Committee to look into the matter.”

The Senate Democratic Caucus issued a statement on the issue as well.

"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."

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