katrina robinson

Senate to take up Robinson ethics case, potential ouster on Feb. 2

State Sen. Katrina Robinson confers with Rep. G.A. Hardaway (both D-Memphis) after the Sente Ethics Committee recommended Robinson’s expulsion on Jan. 20, 20222. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) says the full chamber will take up the ethics case against Sen. Katrina Robinson on Feb. 2. The Senate Ethics Committee last week recommended the Memphis Democrat’s expulsion over federal fraud charges related to her nursing school.

Robinson is awaiting sentencing after a jury found her guilty of two charges of misspending federal grant money intended for the school. She has also agreed to pre-trial diversion on separate case in which the government alleged she and two codefendants conspired to cheat a man out of $14,470 by falsely claiming the money was needed to cover tuition
for a student at her school.

McNally has called on Robinson to resign before the matter comes before the full Senate. Democrats called the move premature because Robinson hasn’t been sentenced yet.

Here is the Senate Ethics Committee’s report to the chamber:

The Senate Ethics Committee held a public meeting on January 20, 2021 after the Committee voted 4-0 in a private hearing on January 10, 2021 that probable cause existed that Senator Katrina Robinson violated the law or the Senate Code of Ethics. The committee made this determination based on Senator Robinson’s actions that resulted in a jury conviction in federal court on September 30, 2021 for wire fraud (counts 11 and 12 of her indictment) and for actions which led to a pretrial diversion agreement with the United States that was filed with the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee on December 17, 2021.

Complaint 1: A jury conviction in federal court on September 30, 2021 for wire fraud (counts 11 and 12 of her indictment); and

Complaint 2: A pretrial diversion agreement with the United States that was filed with the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee on December 17,2021.

The following public court documents were submitted to the committee as exhibits and are attached to this report:

Exhibit 1: The Superseding Indictment from January 14, 2021 in United States of America v. Katrina Robinson, Criminal No. 2:20-cr-20148-SHL

Exhibit 2: The Jury Instructions in United States of America v. Katrina Robinson, Cr. No. 20-20148- SHL

Exhibit 3: The Jury’s Verdict in United States of America v. Katrina Robinson, Cr. No. 20-20148- SHL

Exhibit 4: Order Denying Defendant’s Motion for Judgment of Acquittal as to Counts 11 and 12; Granting Defendant’s Motion for Judgment of Acquittal as to Counts 19 and 20; and Denying Defendant’s Motion for New Trial in United States of America v. Katrina Robinson, No. 2:20-cr-20148-SHL

Exhibit 5: Criminal Complaint in United States of America v. Katrina Robinson, Katie Ayers, Brooke Boudreaux Case No. 21-cr-20003-MSN/tmp

Exhibit 6: Motion to Dismiss Indictment without Prejudice and the Pretrial Diversion Agreement in United States of America v. Katrina Robinson, Katie Ayers, Brooke Boudreaux Crim. No. 2:21-cr-20003-SHL

Chairman Ferrell Haile explained the complaints and submitted the court documents that support the information in the complaints. The committee had some discussion and some questions from Senator Robinson.

Senator Jack Johnson made a motion that Sen. Robinson’s actions in the two matters that were articulated by Chairman Haile do constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics of the Senate. The committee voted 4-1 in support of the motion.

A second motion was made by Senator Jack Johnson that should the senate find that the actions that have been laid forth do constitute a violation of the Senate Code of Ethics that this committee in compliance with Article 11, Section 12 of the Constitution of Tennessee recommend that Sen. Robinson be expelled from the body. The committee voted 4-1 in support of the motion.

Therefore, the Senate ethics committee finds that Senator Robinson’s actions in the two complaints do constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics of the Senate and that if the Senate makes that same finding, further recommends the Senate, in compliance with Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution of the state of Tennessee, expel Senator Robinson from the body.

/signed/

Chairman Ferrell Haile

Sen. Jack Johnson

Sen. Steve Southerland

Sen. John Stevens

New TNJ edition alert: Tiptoeing through Tipton, Robinson’s travails, and a Merritt obit

State Sen. Katrina Robinson confers with Rep. G.A. Hardaway (both D-Memphis) after the Sente Ethics Committee recommended Robinson’s expulsion on Jan. 20, 20222. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here’s what’s in it:

— Senate approves slightly revised maps, House votes next week. Changes include splitting Tipton County between Rep. Cohen’s and Kustoff’s districts.

— Ethics panel calls for Robinson’s Senate expulsion, Democrats protest.

— Obituary: Gil Merritt, Supreme Court finalist who threw out fleeing felon laws.

Also: Another potential GOP candidate in the new-look 5th District, Orgel gets weak-kneed over decrepit buildings in Memphis, and Lundberg gets a new office.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

Or subscribe here.

New TNJ edition alert: Congressional redistricting on tap, Robinson seeks to avoid prison time

Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston), left, walks to look at a proposed House redistricting map on Dec. 17, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

It’s The Tennessee Journal’s first print edition of the year! Here’s what’s in it:

 — House to release congressional maps, but Senate mum on plans.

— Nashville is reportedly a finalist, but how far will mayor push for convention if GOP breaks up his brother’s U.S. House seat?

— From the courts: Robinson lawyers argue loss of Senate seat would be punishment enough for fraud conviction; Kelsey can’t use money campaign fundraiser to pay defense attorneys.

— State casts doubt on whether pharmacy benefit manager bill does what sponsors said it would do.

Also: Boyd runs Antarctic marathon, ECD halts China recruiting, Tennessee Waltz figure rejected for Memphis job, and Faison’s referee pantsing.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

Or subscribe here.

Robinson attends special session despite federal fraud conviction

Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis), center in yellow, hears from Sen. Sara Kyle (D-Memphis), right, on the Senate floor in Nashville on Oct. 19, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) surprised observers by attending the first day of a special legislative session despite her recent conviction on federal wire fraud charges.

Robinson’s attorneys have asked the judge to throw out the verdict or order a new trial, but no decision has yet been made on that front. Republican leaders had hoped Robinson would sit out the special session on Ford incentives and the one expected to follow on COVID-19 mandates. The question will be whether the GOP now decides to being ouster procedures.

Robinson isn’t scheduled to be sentenced until just before the regular session begins in January.

Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) attends a special session Nashville on Oct. 18, 2021, despite her recent conviction on federal fraud charges. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

New TNJ edition alert: Ford incentive deal gets scant attention amid furor over COVID-19 mandates

The 6 1/2-square-mile Memphis Regional Megasite.

The new print edition of The Tenenssee Journal is out. Here’s what we covered this week:

— Ford session near, but still no official call on COVID-19 mandates.
— Robinson faces Senate removal following conviction in fraud trial (with cameos from John Ford, Tommy Burnett, and Ed Gillock).
— Cue the waterworks: State releases plan for spending federal funds on water, sewer projects.
— Obituary: Jim Coley, social studies teacher who spent 14 years as lawmaker.

Also: Mick Jagger on a pedal tavern, big school districts and teachers’ union frozen out of BEP review, Randy Boyd apologizes for Mark Pody fundraiser, and Steve Cohen makes an endorsement in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

As always, access your copy of the TNJ here or subscribe here.

New TNJ edition alert: Megasite comes out on top

In this week’s print edition of The Tennessee Journal:

— Dirty word no more: West Tenn. megasite lands huge Ford plant.

— Obituaries: 16-year justice Clark, GOP player Shoaf, income tax backer Stewart.

— Federal jury convicts Democrat Robinson of wire fraud charges.

Also: Niceley touts “soft secession,” Fiscus wants to put muzzle business behind her, congressional delegation wants to name post office after Harper, and a look into endangered species among Tennessee politicos.

As always, access your copy of the TNJ here or subscribe here.

Democratic Sen. Robinson convicted in federal fraud case

A federal jury has found Democratic state Sen. Katrina Robinson of Memphis guilty of four counts of wire fraud.

Katrina Robinson (Image credit: Tennessee General Assemlby)

Robinson’s prospects at trial had been looking up after the judge last week granted a defense motion to acquit her of 15 of the 20 counts she had been charged with. But the trial proceeded this week on the remainder of the case and the freshman senator was convicted after the jury of eight women and four men deliberated Thursday for five hours.

The dismissed counts include allegations Robinson had illegally spent grant money on her 2018 Senate campaign, legal fees for her divorce, and contributions to her retirement account.

What remained of the more than $600,000 prosecutors had alleged Robinson misspent were two counts of wire fraud related to $2,326 she paid an artist through a booking agent and $1,158 that went to a wedding makeup artist. Also surviving the judge’s ruling were three counts of wire fraud alleging Robinson made fraudulent representations in annual performance reports from 2017 through 2019. The jury acquitted Robinson of any wrongdoing on her 2018 report.

Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) called on Robinson to resign.

“While Senator Robinson’s convictions did not stem from actions taken while in office, they are nevertheless very serious,” McNally said in a statement. “As public servants, we are held to a higher standard. My personal opinion is that it would be in the best interest of the state and her constituents for Senator Robinson to step down at this time.”

Robinson faced up to 20 years in prison for the full set of wire fraud charges before she was acquitted of most of them. Sentencing is scheduled for January.

Judge grants acquittal motion on 15 of 20 charges against state Sen. Katrina Robinson

Katrina Robinson (Image credit: Tennessee General Assemlby)

A federal judge has granted a motion for acquittal on 15 of 20 charges in the fraud trial of state Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis).

U.S. District Judge Sheryl Lipman said she would make an an oral ruling in court on Monday morning, with the jury set to return later in the day to hear the defense’s case. Robinson’s attorneys had made the motion to dismiss the entire case after the prosecution had rested last week, arguing the government had failed to prove she had misspent federal grant money meant for her nursing school on personal expenses.

The dismissed counts include allegations Robinson had illegally spent grant money on her 2018 Senate campaign, legal fees for her divorce, and contributions to her retirement account.

What remains of the more than $600,000 prosecutors had alleged Robinson misspent are two counts of wire fraud related to $2,326 she paid an artist through a booking agent and $1,158 that went to a wedding makeup artist. Also surviving the judge’s ruling are three counts of wire fraud alleging Robinson made fraudulent representations in annual performance reports from 2017 through 2019.

Jury seated in Democratic Sen. Robinson’s fraud trial

Katrina Robinson (Image credit: Tennessee General Assemlby)

A jury has been seated in the federal fraud trial of state Sen. Katrina Robinson. The Memphis Democrat is charged with spending more than $600,000 in federal grant money meant for her nursing school on personal expenses.

Opening statements are expected to take place on Tuesday. The trial could last more than three weeks.

Students at Robinson’s Healthcare Institute gathered outside the courthouse.

“We’re here to support her. She’s been nothing but great and amazing and we’re just going to support her,” Jennifer Taylor told WREG-TV. “But to be here together, standing for her, I’m very proud and very honored to be a part of the Healthcare Institute.”

The judge last week denied prosecutors’ motion to move the trial to Jackson or to bring in a jury pool from outside Shelby County.

Robinson, who was elected to the Senate in 2018, has pleaded not guilty.

New charges filed against Democratic Sen. Robinson

The Tennessee Senate meets on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

New charges have been filed against state Sen. Katrina Robinson. The Memphis Democrat was previously indicted on 48 federal fraud counts in July 2020 — 24 each of wire fraud and theft and embezzlement from the government. Robinson has denied wrongdoing.

Here’s the U.S. Justice Department release outlining the latest developments:

MEMPHIS, TN – Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson, 40, has been federally charged in a new case, along with two other co-defendants, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. D. Michael Dunavant, U.S. Attorney announced the unsealing of the new federal criminal complaint today.

According to information presented in Court, the Healthcare Institute (“THI”) is a post-secondary educational provider located in Memphis, Tennessee. It purports to provide training programs for jobs in the healthcare field, including certified nursing assistant, phlebotomist, and licensed practical nurse. It was founded in January 2015 as a Tennessee for-profit LLC, with Katrina Robinson as director. THI received more than $10,000 in federal funds each year between 2015 and 2019. During that period, Robinson is alleged to have stolen, converted, and intentionally misapplied property of THI for her own use. As a result, on July 30, 2020, she was indicted in Case No. 2:20-cr-20147-SHL, which is currently pending trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdtn/pr/federal-grand-jury-returns-indictment-charging-tennessee-state-senator-katrina-robinson

The charges in this new federal complaint arise from a completely separate fraud scheme in which Robinson, Katie Ayers, 59, and Brooke Boudreaux, 32, are alleged to have conspired to use THI to defraud victim R.S. out of $14,470.00, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349 and 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h).

As set forth in more detail in the complaint affidavit, while investigating the charges in the 2020 case, the FBI also uncovered a scheme in which the defendants convinced R.S. that Boudreaux, with whom he had an existing relationship, needed the money for tuition and expenses to attend THI. R.S. agreed and tendered $14,470.00 to THI for that purpose. In fact, the investigation revealed that Boudreaux was never a student at THI, and the conspirators split the money among themselves for their personal benefit and unjust enrichment.

If convicted, the defendants each face a possible sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison followed by three years supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system. The case will be presented to a federal grand jury at a later date to consider an indictment against the defendants.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations of criminal conduct, not evidence. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and convicted through due process of law.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris E. Cotten is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.