The Look in Brief

Sentencing hearing for ex-Rep. Smith postponed amid Casada case

By: - August 29, 2022 12:02 pm
Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, talks to reporters at opening day of the 112th General Assembly. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, talks to reporters at opening day of the 112th General Assembly. (Photo: John Partipilo)

A sentencing hearing for former Rep. Robin Smith, who is set to cooperate with the prosecution in Rep. Glen Casada’s trial, is being postponed until January 30, a court document filed Monday shows.

Smith’s sentencing hearing was scheduled for Oct. 17. Her plea agreement to fraud charges anticipates she will testify in United States v. Casada before Judge Eli Richardson, which is slated for Oct. 25.

“The defense and the government suggest that the sentencing hearing in this case be projected to the end of January of 2023, at the very earliest, given the projected length of the Casada case with multiple defendants,” the court filing states.

The state is not opposed to the motion by Smith’s attorney, according to the filing.

The former state representative from Hixson, a one-time chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, pleaded guilty in early March to honest services wire fraud in connection with an illicit campaign vendor set up with knowledge of former House Speaker Casada and run by his ex-chief of staff, Cade Cothren, both of whom were indicted last week by federal agents.

Smith pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks from Phoenix Solutions, a campaign vendor secretary run by Cothren. It did business with the House Republican Caucus and $52,000 worth of constituent mailers for House Republicans, which is the focal point of charges against Cothren and Casada, a Williamson County Republican who stepped down as House speaker after barely seven months amid a sexist and racist texting scandal and complaints about heavy-handed management.

Smith and Casada pressured the House Republican Caucus and lawmakers to do business with Phoenix Solutions, including the work on taxpayer-funded mailers and, in return, received kickbacks from Cothren, according to Smith’s guilty plea.

FBI agents arrested Casada and Cothren at their homes last Tuesday morning after a federal grand jury issued an indictment on 20 counts involving bribery, theft from programs receiving federal funds, kickbacks, conspiracy to commit money laundering and other charges. Each could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Casada and Cothren pleaded not guilty in federal court last week, and Casada’s attorney, Ed Yarbrough, said he plans to show there is no connection between the alleged scam and federal funds.

Motion to postpone ex-Tennessee Rep. Robin Smith sentencing by Anita Wadhwani on Scribd

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Sam Stockard
Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard is a veteran Tennessee reporter and editor, having written for the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, where he served as lead editor when the paper won an award for being the state's best Sunday newspaper two years in a row. He has led the Capitol Hill bureau for The Daily Memphian. His awards include Best Single Editorial from the Tennessee Press Association.