Lawyer says state Sen. Katrina Robinson ‘didn’t steal, didn’t embezzle’ as federal trial begins

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Opening statements were heard Tuesday in the theft and embezzlement case of Tennessee state Sen. Katrina Robinson, who is accused of using hundreds of thousands of dollars that was supposed to go to her certified nursing school on various personal expenses like home improvements and vacations.

We caught Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson while walking into court with her attorneys. Cameras are not allowed into a federal courtroom.

Robinson and all attorneys involved with the case have also been ordered by a judge not to speak to media.

In opening statements, the prosecutor representing the U.S government told jurors his team will prove over the next few weeks how Robinson stole hundreds of thousands of dollars that was supposed to go to the school she founded, The Healthcare Institute.

The prosecutor said the money came after Robinson applied for this grant. That 2015 grant we first showed you back in March after WREG obtained the 78-page document through a federal open records request. 

The prosecutor said the grant money was supposed to go toward scholarships for students, but the proof will show misrepresentations were made between who completed the program and who received the scholarships.

Robinson’s attorney, Lawrence Laurenzi’s first words to the jury during his opening statement were simple, “Katrina Robinson didn’t steal, she didn’t embezzle.”

Laurenzi took an emotional approach. He said before Robinson founded her school, she was a single mother of two with a dream. Laurenzi told jurors she exceeded her goals for the school and like every entrepreneur wanted to grow her business.

Laurenzi said that the businesses were hers and hers alone. 

Laurenzi said the money she spent was hers to spend as her company turned a profit. He said Robinson did not act with bad intent and she hired people to oversee and help with her finances.

He also said after Robinson became an elected official in 2018. While the charges have nothing to do with her position, the FBI’s focused narrowed in on her. 

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