Former Sen. Katrina Robinson in the Tennessee Capitol, shortly before her colleagues in the Tennessee Senate voted to oust her in Feb. 2021. (Photo: John Partipilo)
Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to impose a two-and-a-half-year sentence on former Sen. Katrina Robinson, arguing she has shown a “defiant refusal to accept responsibility” for felony wire fraud convictions.
The prosecution also filed an appeal of U.S. District Court Sheryl Lipman’s decision to drop two of four guilty charges against Robinson that dealt with providing information to the federal government on $2.2 million worth of grants to run The HealthCare Institute, her Memphis nursing school.
Signed by U.S. Attorney Joseph Murphy, the prosecution’s report, which is to be considered for her March 3 sentencing, contends, “She has not simply declined to admit guilt; she has embarked on an extended campaign – before, during and after trial; in front of the jury and in frequent statements to the media – to paint herself as the victim.”
“A consistent and recurring theme of this campaign is that the consequences she is facing are the result not of her own actions but of racial animus on the part of anyone who dares call her to account.”
As proof, the filing points toward an interview with the Tennessee Lookout and a report in The Commercial Appeal on the Senate’s vote to expel her from her 33rd District seat for violating the chamber’s ethics code.
Robinson called the Senate vote last week a “procedural lynching,” claiming it was “racist” and “discriminatory.” Senators voted 27-5 to oust her along partisan lines, with Republicans in control.
Prosecutors also contend the final two charges of wire fraud on which she was convicted should total more than $60,000, not $3,500, as has been reported.
Robinson and her attorney, Larry Laurenzi, declined to comment on the prosecution’s claim that her defiant tone should be considered in the sentencing.
Laurenzi, though, said Monday if Robinson hadn’t gone to trial, the government expected her to plead guilty to $600,000 worth of fraud. Robinson has argued that the jury and Senate failed to understand the case.
The defense attorney said his team will file an appeal once sentencing is complete, if the convictions remain in place.
Last week, Laurenzi told senators he wasn’t certain whether an appeal would be filed in advance of the sentencing. Senators contended Robinson had exhausted her appeals, thus they moved ahead with the expulsion.
The defense attorney said Monday that prosecutors had 30 days to appeal a final order of the judge, once she dropped two of the four counts. He wasn’t certain when the appeal was filed with the Department of Justice.
“We strongly believe the judge was correct in her ruling in finding that there was really no proof to support the government’s accusation in the indictment. We will deal with that on appeal,” he said.
The defense won’t have the right to appeal until the final sentencing is complete.
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