FBI accountant testifies that Senator Robinson made purchases with federal grant money
MEMPHIS, Tenn. –An FBI accountant said in court on Monday that there was no way the grant funds could not be used when Senator Katrina Robinson made personal purchases, otherwise her accounts would have been overdrawn.
The trial of the besieged Tennessee state senator from Memphis resumed Monday with lengthy testimony. The prosecution spent most of the day questioning the accountant, who said she looked into Robinson’s finances associated with his school.
Robinson’s trial began last week. She is accused of stealing $ 600,000 in federal grants that were supposed to go to the certified nursing school she founded in Memphis, The Healthcare Institute.
Testimony on Monday showed that the government has documented and tracked Robinson’s spending since 2015 when she received a grant to start nursing school.
The agent spoke of the 10-15,000 pages of deposit history she reviewed, noting that the majority of funds deposited into a Pinnacle Bank account came from grant funds. They would then be transferred to an account at the Banque des Régions.
Deposits could then be broken down by source, with the overwhelming majority of money coming from grant funds.
The officer then testified as to the destination of the money. She said she had reported things that initially had nothing to do with nursing school. The expenses were linked to the Healthcare Institute bank statement.
At one point, the agent detailed the purchases made from a PayPal account that the government subpoenaed.
Some of the purchases included a Louis Vuitton bag, Gucci shoes, vintage Chanel sunglasses, a Wayfair purchase, glitter Ugg boots, dining chairs, body clothes, and a hair straightener.
Personal credit card payments, a trip to Jamacia, a car dealership and wedding expenses were also detailed.
Other significant expenses included $ 54,000 for a retirement savings arrangement that the agent said was not authorized under the grant, thousands of dollars in purchases on Amazon and $ 94,000 in excess compensation.
The defense spent just under an hour late Monday in cross-examination, questioning the officer about whether they knew which items were actually purchases, particularly on a payment made to LR Clothier.
He also said the totals that Robinson is accused of taking actually amount to $ 585,000, not $ 600,000, as initially reported by investigators.
The defense also questioned the accountant’s experience, asking if she was qualified to distinguish what is used in nursing school and what is not.
At one point, the defense asked, “You testified that these were personal purchases even though you don’t know what many of them are for?” The agent replied, “I know they were paid with THI funds.”
Students who attended the Healthcare Institute said outside the courthouse that they believed Robinson was innocent.
“It would have been something that was caught a long time ago, not just now,” supporter Chimere Miller said. “So she’s been doing this for years and now it’s all coming to the surface, like everything is wrong.”
Cross-examination will continue on Tuesday morning.
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