A federal grand jury indicted State Senator Katrina Robinson on Thursday on multiple charges of theft, embezzlement and wire fraud. The indictment comes a day after prosecutors unsealed a criminal complaint accusing Robinson of misusing more than $600,000 in federal grant money on personal spending and other expenses.
Robinson is a first-term Democrat, elected in 2018 to a district representing large portions of south and southeast Memphis.
The criminal complaint alleges she siphoned the money from the Healthcare Institute, a for-profit training school for healthcare workers that she founded in 2015. The business received more than $2.2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over a four-year period, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors say she stole hundreds of thousands of that money, using it for personal expenses related to her wedding, debts and improvements to another business she owns, among other expenditures.
At a press conference Wednesday evening, Robinson’s attorney, Janika White, said the lawmaker has been cooperating with federal agents since February, when the FBI raided her home as part of its investigation.
White said one of the statutes prosecutors are charging her under is “broad and overreaching.”
“Oftentimes [it] leads to what no one in this society wants, which is overcriminalization,” she said. “That’s the idea where sometimes we criminalize activity that may not have any criminal intent.”
White added that Robinson, a registered nurse, is dedicted to helping others—most recently, working in New York and Texas hospitals on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year.
Standing beside her attorney and what appeared to be her two children, Robinson said she was “committed to continuing to serve with the same integrity, the same passion, that I have demonstrated since you elected me to this office.”
“If you support me, keep supporting me,” she said. “If you stand with me, keep standing with me.”
Both White and Robinson declined to take questions.
Robinson could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.