MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An FBI forensic accountant said in court Monday that there was no way grant funds were not used when Sen. Katrina Robinson was making personal purchases, or else her accounts would’ve been overdrawn.
The trial for the embattled Tennessee state senator from Memphis picked back up Monday with lengthy testimony. The prosecution spent nearly the entire day questioning the accountant, who said she pored over Robinson’s financials associated with her school.
Robinson’s trial started last week. She’s accused of stealing $600,000 of federal grant money that was supposed to really go to the certified nursing school she started in Memphis, The Healthcare Institute.
Testimony on Monday showed that the government documented and tracked Robinson’s spending going back to 2015, when she was awarded a grant to start the nursing school.
The agent talked about the 10-15,000 pages of deposit history she reviewed, detailing that the majority of the funds deposited into a Pinnacle Bank account came from grant funds. They then would be moved over to a Regions Bank account.
The deposits could then broken down by source, with the overwhelming majority of the money coming from grant funds.
The agent then testified about where money went. She said she flagged items that initially didn’t relate to the nursing school. The expenditures were tied back to The Healthcare Institute’s 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, Ugg sparkle boots, dining room chairs, body shapewear and a hair straightener.
Payments to personal credit cards, a trip to Jamacia, a car dealership and wedding expenses were also detailed.
Other big expenditures included $54,000 to a retirement savings arrangement that the agent said was not permitted within the grant, thousands of dollars in Amazon purchases and $94,000 in excess compensation.
The defense spent a little less than an hour late Monday in cross examination, questioning the agent about if she knew which items were really purchases, specifically asking about a payment made to LR Clothier.
He also said totals Robinson is accused of taking actually totals $585,000 not $600,000 as initially stated by investigators.
The defense also questioned the accountant’s experience, asking if she was qualified to distinguish what’s used in a nursing school and what is not.
At one point defense asked, “You testified that these were personal purchases even though you don’t know what many of them are for?” The agent responded, “I know they were paid for with THI funds.”
Students who attended The Healthcare Institute said outside the courthouse that they believe Robinson is innocent.
“It would’ve 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 all of it comes to surface, as if so much is wrong.”
Cross examination will continue Tuesday morning.