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Jury finds State Sen. Katrina Robinson guilty of wire fraud

Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 3:26 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 30, 2021 at 4:35 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - After five hours of deliberation, a jury found Tennessee State Sen. Katrina Robinson guilty of four counts of wire fraud.

Robinson was initially indicted on 15 counts of embezzlement and five counts of wire fraud. Last weekend, a judge acquitted her of the embezzlement charges.

The jury found Robinson not guilty of one count of the remaining wire fraud charges.

Prosecutors argued Robinson spent federal grant money intended for her business, The Healthcare Institute, on personal expenses like her 2016 wedding and fudged student data in annual performance reports to make the nursing school appear more successful to ensure future grant funding.

Robinson maintained her innocence throughout the trial, speaking with Action News 5 shortly before the case went to court.

She and her attorneys spoke after hearing the verdict, again proclaiming her innocence.

“First, let me say I entered this process knowing I am innocent and still maintain I am innocent,” Robinson said during a press conference. She said she was targeted for prosecution.

One of Robinson’s attorneys Lawrence Laurenzi says he felt the jury did not get it right and he is expecting a better outcome when the case is reviewed.

“However I am disappointed that the jury did not find in my favor as to the remaining four counts of what was once a 48-count indictment, alleging I stole $600,000 from the government but ending in five counts, alleging I stole $3,484.00 from my own business, Robinson said.

Laurenzi also said that from the beginning the defense felt they had to prove Robinson was entirely innocent, instead of the other way around with prosecution having to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is guilty.

“After the search warrant, and then the indictment, all of the other agencies suddenly presumed that she was guilty. The one thing that I have learned on this side is that I think the presumption of innocence is something maybe for law books or maybe for TV drama, but in fact it... in reality I don’t think it works that way,” Laurenzi said.

Robinson said that their fight is far from over and that her legal team intends to file a motion for a new trial.

Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally told Action News 5 he believes Robinson should step down.

“While Senator Robinson’s convictions did not stem from actions taken while in office, they are nevertheless very serious,” said McNally. “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 said she has not decided how to move forward in regards to her Senate seat, but said she would decide soon.

Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 5. She’ll remain free on bond until that time.

A separate case for charges of mail fraud and money laundering is pending. She’s next due in court for that case Oct. 14.

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