MEMPHIS, Tenn.– Tennessee state senator Katrina Robinson took the stand Tuesday afternoon. She testified before the jury that has been hearing her case for the last two weeks.
On Monday, a federal judge acquitted Robinson of 15 of the 20 counts she was facing as prosecutors allege she stole thousands of grant dollars that was supposed to go to The Healthcare Institute, her certified nursing school.
She sat and listened to the case against her, but late Tuesday afternoon, it was her turn to talk. When asked if she understood the Fifth amendment, she said, “I think I’ve used that long enough.” Friends, family and fellow lawmakers were in the room for her testimony.
When asked point blank by her attorney if she’s been wrongly accused of stealing grant funds, she said, “I have been wrongly accused. I have been dragged through the mud by the federal government. When the federal government knew good and well that I did not do that.”
She walked the jury through how and why she wanted to start her school. She stated that her father passing away made her want to go to nursing school, then working in the hospital she saw a need for more people to be helped and for certified nursing assistants.
Robinson said THI is designed to help the underserved and students who might not go the traditional college route. When she initially applied for her federal grant in 2015, she didn’t expect to get it. However, when she was awarded the grant, she immediately got help, an attorney and an accountant.
THI was praised by those working with the grant for their work. The grant was even extended for one year. Over the years, her classes grew exponentially, which forced THI to expand the size of the school. They made money through tuition and started expanding more nursing programs, which had a higher tuition. In 2018, they were pushing nearly a million dollars in revenue.
Throughout this case the government has alleged Robinson used grant funds for her wedding. When her attorney asked if she did, she said “Absolutely not. My father would turn over in his grave if he knew I married someone who couldn’t pay for a wedding.”
She said they were in the process of moving and her husband at the time made deposits into their business accounts to pay for the wedding. She also said each expense was classified under THI funds.
She also said she would never charge personal expenses to the grant, that’s not allowable.
She also said when it came to all data entry in relation to submitting student information for grant funds, it was very important to her that it was done right and never told anyone to falsify information.