(The Center Square) – A federal grand jury in Memphis has indicted Tennessee state senator Katrina Robinson, D-Memphis, on 24 counts of embezzlement involving government programs, and 24 counts of wire fraud.
Charges against Robinson were unsealed Wednesday, alleging that the senator used more than $600,000 of federal grant funds for her healthcare education business to pay for personal expenses including clothing and beauty products, a vehicle for her daughter, wedding and honeymoon expenses, legal fees for her divorce, and a campaign event.
A spokesman for Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said the lieutenant governor would ask the Senate Ethics Committee to look into the matter.
An anonymous complaint filed in 2016 alleged that Robinson had purchased a $550 Louis Vuitton bag with grant funds. The ensuing case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“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,” Acting Special Agent in Charge Jermicha L. Fomby of the Memphis Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said. “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.”
The last sitting Tennessee state lawmaker who faced federal charges was Rep. Joe Armstrong, a Knoxville Democrat, who was convicted of federal tax fraud in 2016, according to the Tennessean.
If convicted, Robinson could face up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.