Expelled Tennessee senator convicted of fraud

Memphis, Ten. – A former Tennessee senator has been fired after being found guilty of using federal grant money to pay for a wedding instead of a nursing school.

Katrina Robinson faces up to four to 10 months in prison, according to sentencing guidelines, after being convicted in September of two counts of wire fraud in Memphis federal court. But U.S. District Judge Sheryl H. Lippman backtracked during sentencing, saying Robinson is already suffering heavily and the Memphis community nursing school administrator, community leader and mother of two will receive no benefits from prison time.

Robinson, a Democrat, was elected to represent a Memphis district in the state Senate in 2018. But Robinson, who is black, was removed from office by a vote of the Republican-led Senate during a February 2 session.

The criminal case against Robinson involved a federal grant money for a school for healthcare workers that he ran before he was elected to public office.

In July 2020, prosecutors accused Robinson of paying more than $ 600,000 in personal expenses from a federal grant to The Healthcare Institute, which trains nurses and focuses on helping low-income minority students. She was eventually convicted in just two of the 20 counts, of which the cost of the wedding in 2016 was about $ 3,400.

Before the 27-5 vote to remove him from the Senate, Robinson argued that the white majority body had unfairly judged him. He called it a “procedural lynching” that echoed the support the Republican speaker rejected. Some of his supporters in the gallery broke down in tears and others expressed solidarity.

This is the first time the chamber has removed a senator, at least since the Civil War.

On Friday, prosecutor Christopher Cotten asked the judge to sentence Robinson to 10 months in prison, saying he had shown “irrationality to admit any guilt for his actions” and unjustly blamed racism for the allegations.

During the sentencing hearing, Robinson told the judge that he understood the importance of his case and admitted that he “does not keep a close eye on the matter.”

Lippmann, the judge, said he had read 57 letters of support for Robinson. Alumni and current staff described her as a great mother, foster educator, inspirational community leader, and dedicated nurse. Robinson traveled outside of Tennessee to care for sick patients at the hospital in the early stages of the coronavirus epidemic.

However, Lippman reprimanded Robinson for blaming races such as the “hot button problem”, although the judge acknowledged past incidents of racial injustice in the court system. Lippman criticized Robinson’s sloppy record, adding that Robinson failed to honor federal grants funded by taxpayers without due regard.

Judge Robinson advised Somas.

“Anyone who tries to do everything has to edit, and desperately edit,” Lippman said.

Lippman also ruled Friday that Robinson lied during his trial when he defended an email in which he said the money he used in his marriage was for a community patient education program and should be covered by grant money.

After the hearing, Robinson told reporters he felt the probation was appropriate and that he planned to continue working in the community.

“Most of the things I’ve talked about are related to race, to my expulsion from the Senate, and to the overall pattern from the beginning when black elected officials were able to serve – I don’t necessarily do that. Accept responsibility for this case. , “Robinson said.

His lawyer, Lawrence Lorenzi, says while he can avoid jail, Robinson has already paid a heavy price for both his reputation and his finances. Robinson has struggled to secure a checking account, his retirement account has been confiscated by the federal government and he could lose his nursing license, lawyers say.

Lorenzi said he plans to appeal the conviction.

Following Robinson’s expulsion from the Senate, the Shelby County Commission chose another black woman, the Democratic State Republican London Lamar, to replace her. Commissioners will choose to replace Lamar in the State House.

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