A Democratic Tennessee state senator has been charged with theft and embezzlement of federal funds which she allegedly used to pay for vacations, handbags and other personal expenses, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney Western District of Tennessee said that Tennessee state Sen. Katrina Robinson, 39, received more than $2.2 million in federal grants between 2015 and 2019 for a vocational training school she founded called The Healthcare Institute.
Robinson is accused of stealing over $600,000 from the school and using it for personal reasons.
During the period when the school received the grant funds, Robinson allegedly “stole in excess of $600,000 from THI by compensating herself in excess of what was allowed under the terms of the HRSA grant and by using Institute funds for payments and purchases for her own personal benefit and that of her immediate family,” the Department of Justice said in its official complaint.
Federal grant money given t0 The Healthcare Institute was intended to “provide scholarships to low-income individuals” and establish “an educational program to train certified nursing assistants for employment assisting geriatric patients,” the complaint said.
Instead, Robinson allegedly used the money to benefit herself and her family.
The FBI said they received an anonymous complaint from someone who claimed Robinson used federal funds to buy a $550 Louis Vuitton handbag, according to the complaint.
The investigators found that Robinson allegedly used taxpayer money to buy a Jeep for her daughter and pay expenses related to her wedding, honeymoon and later divorce.
Robinson allegedly used stolen funds to pay off personal debt, for travel and entertainment, and for a $5,000 wrought iron front entry door.
A business owned by Robinson called “Celebrity Body Studio,” a business operated by her children called “Kool Kids Konez,” and her state senate campaign all allegedly received some of the stolen money, according to the Justice Department.
Robinson allegedly spent $16,000 at Best Buy and almost $17,000 at Amazon, according t0 the complaint.
If convicted, Robinson faces a possible sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
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