Federal authorities charged Democratic Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson on July 29 with theft and embezzlement, according to court documents.
Robinson, 39, allegedly stole $600,000 from The Healthcare Institute, where she served as a director. The institute received $2.2 million in grants and Robinson used a large portion of the money for personal purchases for herself and her family in violation of the term of the grant.
“Anyone who seeks to take advantage of government programs will be vigorously investigated by the FBI, regardless of who they are or any position they hold,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Jermicha Fomby of the Memphis Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“The public should know that the FBI will continue to work diligently with our law enforcement partners to identify and investigate those who seek to exploit government programs and line their own pockets.”
Robinson faces a sentence of up to 20 years and $250,000 fine.
According to the indictment, Robinson also used the funds stolen from the institute to pay off her credit cards and student loans, finance travel and entertainment for her family, pay for expenses related to her children’s snow cone business and an event for her State Senate campaign.
The Department of Health and Human Services opened an investigation into Robinson in December 2016 after receiving a complaint stating that she bought a $550 Louis Vuitton bag using the institute’s funds.
“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,” U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said.
Robinson is an advocate for mail-in voting. She introduced a bill in June which would allow anyone with concerns about the pandemic to request a mail-in ballot.
President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr have both said that mail-in voting increases the risk of voter fraud.
Robinson left Tennessee for six weeks beginning in March to help with the pandemic response at New York’s Bellevue Hospital.