fraud

Feds charge Democratic state Sen. Robinson with embezzlement

Freshman state Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) is facing federal theft and embezzlement charges.

Prosecutors allege Robinson stole stole more than $600,000 from her business, the Healthcare Institute, by paying herself more than what was allowed under the terms the grant she received, the Daily Mempian reports.

Robinson defeated the late Sen. Reginald Tate in the primary in 2018 and went on to win the heavily Democratic district.

The Senate Democratic Caucus issued the following statement:

It’s clear that Sen. Robinson’s work in the state legislature on behalf of her constituents is not in question here today. Just like every other American, Sen. Robinson deserves the presumption of innocence and due process under the law. Her case should be resolved by a court of law, not by the court of public opinion.”

Investigators this week searched Robinson’s home and business again after conducting earlier raids in February. The complaint alleges Robinson used the money to buy a vehicle for her daughter, clothing, and beauty products. She is also charged with spending grant money on her wedding and honeymoon, followed by legal fees for her divorce.

Robinson’s company, the Healthcare Institute, in 2015 received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2015 to educate people  “looking for a jumpstart to their education and also to provide patient education to the elderly community.”

An anonymous complaint filed in 2016 alleged Robinson had spent $550 in grant funds to buy a Louis Vuitton handbag. The agency’s inspector general opened an investigation, which the FBI later joined.

TN Attorney General’s Office responds to COVID-19

The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office is working at full strength even as most of its staffers work from home. Lawyers are handling mediations and depositions through video conferencing and filing court documents through a fax machine.

Samantha Fisher, the communications director for AG Herbert Slatery, is giving an inside look at how the office is continuing to function under these trying circumstances.

Nearly 250 staffers are working remotely with a focus on legal issues related to the coronavirus response, she said. The Consumer Advocate Unit successfully petitioned the state Public Utility Commission to prevent disconnection of service for nonpayment while the the governor’s state of emergency was in effect.

The Division of Consumer Affairs and the Public Protection Section look into each complaint filed. The division had received 202 formal complaints regarding the coronavirus, inclduding 139 for alleged price gouging (including one high-profile case that received national media attention) and 51 involving refund disputes such as for a vacation rental or event.

The Medicaid Fraud and Integrity Division lawyers have maintained their efforts at civil recovery for TennCare overpayments due to fraud. The division recovered $14 million last year, according to the AG’s office.