MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The prosecution has rested its case on day eight of the trial of Sen. Katrina Robinson.
Attorneys spent the day questioning Jonathan Nyaku, a certified public accountant who provided services to Robinson and the school she started, The Healthcare Institute, or THI. His team knew money had to be spent within accordance of the grant application letter.
Nyaku was asked by prosecutor Chris Cotten, “Who would you rely upon to classify various expenses to observe in the bank statement?”
Nyaku replied, “Ms. Robinson” and went on to say they expected her to “give full disclosure about every transaction.”
Nyaku said Robinson did not point out many personal expenses.
At one point, a 2016 email was shown of the CPA’s firm asking Robinson to provide some clarification about charged items that appeared to be to a makeup company, an event rental company and a $700 Google wallet charge.
Robinson responded, “These were purchases for a community-patient event,” allocating them to fall under grant funds.
Robinson’s attorney Lawrence Laurenzi pointed out in cross examination Nyaku made $3,000 a month, as well as prepared Robinson’s tax returns. He also asked how he had broken down spending categories of expenses called “Gov” for government or the grant funds and another for THI, which was the THI business account.
Laurenzi listed out a number of expenses Robinson is accused of using grant funds on—like Amazon purchases, Grizzlies tickets, American Airlines tickets—were all classified under THI business
Nyaku said they were classified, “Based on the representations we had.”
Laurenzi also noted that as THI was in business longer the school started to gain more money as more students enrolled and as students come in revenue is generated. As it generates income, the income can now be used to pay expenses.
Laurenzi also asked Nyaku about discussions he had with Robinson about starting an LPN program at the school. She expected to charge $10,000 for the program, generating revenue.
Thursday morning, the judge presiding over the trial granted “a motion to compel.” After, Robinson’s team said the owner of the CPA team who conducted the financial audit of THI, “ is actively avoiding service of subpoena.”
The issue was resolved later in the day.
After the jury was dismissed for the day, the defense then raised a Rule 29 Motion, a “judgment of acquittal” saying the evidence the government presented to the jury is insufficient to find Robinson guilty.
Robinson’s attorneys argued before the judge why they believed some of the counts Robinson is facing should be dismissed. Her attorney, Mathew Jehl, said in relation to counts one through 17, “The government has not established a jury cannot find beyond reasonable doubt they were used with grant funds.”
The attorneys also argued over how Robinson is accused of submitting the grant performance reports, which the government alleges were altered by Robinson.
As far as wire fraud counts are concerned, Jehl said, “There is zero evidence of intent and for wire fraud there has to be an intentional crime.”
“While they can show she submitted the reports, there is no evidence she looked at them,” said Jehl.
Attorneys for the government explained their reasoning for the counts.
The attorneys are set to speak before the judge again about Rule 29 late Friday afternoon. The jury will be back in court Monday morning.