Former Democrat Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson was gifted with a generous plea deal Friday, and instead of going to prison for spending more than half a million federal dollars on herself, she will spend one year on probation.
Robinson, 41, was facing 20 counts of fraud and up to ten months in prison for using government money that she applied for on her lavish wedding, a lovely honeymoon, the divorce when the honeymoon ultimately ended, a Louis Vuitton purse she took selfies with, a Jeep Renegade for her daughter, and numerous other personal items, the Daily Mail reports, but the judge in her case felt she had suffered enough, and let her off with a slap on the wrist.
“On Friday, U.S. District Judge Sheryl H. Lipman departed from the guidelines at sentencing, saying Robinson had already suffered greatly and the Memphis community would gain no benefit from prison time for the nursing school administrator, community leader, and mother of two,” the Daily Mail states.
Robinson ran a nursing school called The Healthcare Institute, and after digging into her bank records, investigators found evidence that she had been paying herself a salary that was more than what was allocated for her, given herself a $25,400 performance bonus, and padded her retirement fund with $54,000.
Robinson took office in 2018 as the elected representative of a Memphis district.
In 2020, The Healthcare Institute received $2.2 million in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Robinson was supposed to train nurses with that money, but instead, she splurged on herself, taking a $5,000 trip to Jamaica and paying herself $169,134 more in salary than the federal grant permitted, according to a 2020 affidavit from the FBI.
She even started a snow cone business called Kool Kidz Kones with taxpayer dollars.
Let me get this right, Katrina Robinson, a state Senator in Tennessee, stole $600,000 from government funds, TAX DOLLARS, and calls racism when she got caught? She only got probation? Are you kidding me?https://t.co/T3hJW1uVSU
— Richard Pollard (@RPollardRealtor) March 21, 2022
In February, the Republican-led Senate booted Robinson from office in a 27-5 party-line vote. It was, according to the Daily Mail, the first time since “at least the Civil War” that the chamber had removed a senator.
Robinson, who is Black, immediately screamed racism, calling the vote a “procedural lynching” and claiming the white-majority senate unfairly judged her.
Prosecutor Christopher Cotten wanted Robinson to be sentenced to the full ten months recommended by the sentencing guidelines. He told the judge she had displayed “abject defiance of accepting any responsibility for her actions” and instead pulled the race card.
While Judge Lipman did admonish Robinson for blaming “hot button issues” such as racism for her demise, she did acknowledge that racial injustice in the court system did exist and chalked her intentional fraud up to sloppy bookkeeping. By not giving the federal grant the attention she should have, she disrespected the grant and the taxpayers who funded it.
Lipman then gave Robinson some advice: “Someone who tries to do everything needs to edit, and needs to edit desperately.”
Additionally, Lipman ruled that Robinson had committed perjury.
And for all of that, Robinson pled guilty to just two counts valued at $3,400 and walked out the door.
Following the hearing, Robinson told reporters that probation seemed like a fair punishment for her crimes.
“Most of the stuff that I talked about as it relates to race has to do with my Senate expulsion first of all, and just the overall pattern since the beginning of times when black elected officials were able to serve — not necessarily that I do not accept responsibility for this case,” Robinson said.
While Robinson plans to continue her work in the community, her lawyer, Lawrence Laurenzi lamented that Robinson could lose her nursing license and stated, unbelievably, that he plans to appeal the conviction.
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