State Watch

Tennessee state senator acquitted on majority of charges in embezzlement case

A Tennessee state senator has been acquitted on 15 of 20 charges in an embezzlement case in which she is accused of using hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants to pay for personal expenses.

U.S. District Judge Sheryl Lipman filed an order Sunday to acquit state Sen. Katrina Robinson (D) of a majority of the charges against her after Robinson filed a motion two days before asking to be acquitted on all the charges, according to The Associated Press.

She will, however, remain on trial for the five remaining charges, which are connected to fraud and embezzlement, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Robinson was charged in July 2020 for allegedly using more than $600,000 to cover campaign expenses and make payments for her wedding, honeymoon and divorce.

She was accused of embezzling the funds from grant money for a nurse training program at The Healthcare Institute, a vocational school she headed. The school received more than $2.2 million in grants from the Department of Health and Human Services between 2015 and 2019 that were specifically earmarked for nurse assistant training and need-based scholarships.

Robinson had been under investigation since 2016 after an anonymous report said she used $550 of the grant money to purchase a Louis Vuitton handbag.

The state senator's lawyers on Friday argued for Robinson to be acquitted, contending that prosecutors, after resting their case, failed to prove allegations that Robinson put the federal grant funds toward personal expenses.

Mathew Jehl, Robinson's attorney, argued that for counts one through 17, "the government has not established a jury cannot find beyond reasonable doubt they were used with grant funds," according to WREG Memphis.

The jury is reportedly set to reconvene in the case on Tuesday afternoon.

The Hill has reached out to Robinson's attorney for comment.

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