Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson convicted in federal trial

Next to a juryWith the guilty verdict on four of the five counts of fraud in a federal case, State Senator Katrina Robinson said she was unsure of her next political steps. However, she is certain that she will continue to pursue legal proceedings in the federal government’s case against her.

Robinson and his legal team spoke to reporters after Thursday’s verdict, delivered by eight women and four men who spent days listening to tedious and dense testimony about the finances of Robinson’s vocational school, The Healthcare Institute.

Robinson’s attorneys plan to file a motion calling for a new trial.

“I was hoping that today, after more than a year of allegations, charges, harassment and persecution by the prosecution, we would have a verdict that would end this nightmare in its entirety. . That didn’t happen, “Robinson said.

Although Robinson was originally served with a 48-count indictment, the counts in Robinson’s indictment had been reduced to 20 by the time the trial began. Federal Judge Sheryl Lipman acquitted Robinson of 15 counts of fraud on Sunday, citing prosecution tactics that could have resulted in the trial being quashed.

Government prosecutors declined to comment on Thursday.

Therefore, while Robinson’s trial initially centered on allegations that she illegally used $ 600,000 of federal funds earmarked for her school for personal expenses, as closing arguments on Wednesday evening, the expenses in question totaled less than $ 3,500.

“We believe that when this case is reviewed by the people who have the opportunity to review it, they will come to the verdict that justice dictates – which is a verdict of not guilty,” the defense lawyer said. Lawrence Laurenzi, who is himself a former US prosecutor.

Upon reading Robinson’s verdict, friends and family remained silent, seemingly stunned.

“It’s a sad day,” said State Senator Sara Kyle, who was in court when the verdict was read. “She is my good friend and I will continue to support her.”

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally issued a statement shortly after the guilty verdict: “While Senator Robinson’s convictions do not arise from actions taken during his tenure, they are nonetheless very serious. As public servants, we are held to a higher standard. My personal opinion is that it would be in the best interests of the state and its constituents for Senator Robinson to step down at this time.

At various points in the trial, defense lawyers argued that the charges against Robinson were politically motivated. When asked if the testimony and evidence presented by prosecutors disavowed this position, Robinson said no.

“I still maintain that they are targeted based on who I am and what I do. It hasn’t changed or even been reinforced throughout this trail,” said Robinson.

In Wednesday’s oral argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Cotton argued that the remaining expenses in question during Robinson’s trial, which centers on Robinson’s marriage in 2016, should influence the jury’s decision.

Prosecutors also insisted that the Institute of Health had inflated the number of enrolled students in order to improve appearances that the school was running a successful program that qualified it for continued government funding.

“There was pressure to lose it or use it,” Cotton said of the school’s finances, later adding that it was “no longer possible for there to be so many innocent mistakes” .

Robinson’s attorneys admitted errors had been made in the school’s accounting, which was overseen by a team of hired accountants. But they also pointed to errors on the prosecution side that stemmed from misunderstandings on some of the more complicated files, and they maintained that the government was unable to prove Robinson’s intention.

Defense lawyer Janika White, in closing remarks, questioned why federal agents were allowed to make mistakes in their own assessment of detailed financial records, but Robinson and his accountants were not given the same consideration from from the government.

Katrina Robinson trial:State attorney Senator Katrina Robinson says “innocent record-keeping errors” were made, not fraud

Acquitted on 15 counts:After the judge’s unusual ruling, State Senator Katrina Robinson faces fewer charges as trial resumes on Tuesday

Robinson said Thursday that the government’s indictment against her has sparked backlash affecting students studying for nursing certifications at her school, who are mostly students of color in need. financial assistance.

The government no longer awards scholarships through the Health Resources and Services Administration, she said. Funding by Shelby County and Veterans Affairs is also suspended.

“So now our students, who have come to an institution, thinking that they can have an opportunity and be supported, and get out of the deadlock they find themselves in… Now the only options they have are self-paying and funding, ”says Robinson.

Micaela Watts is a reporter for The Commercial Appeal and can be contacted at [email protected]

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