NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Former state Rep. Robin Smith pleaded guilty Tuesday to a single count of honest services wire fraud, following charges filed last week, according to the Office of the U.S. Attorney Middle District of Tennessee.
Federal paperwork filed March 4 charged Smith with wire fraud and scheming to defraud the citizens of Tennessee. Court documents alleged Smith, “engaged in a fraudulent scheme with others to contract with Phoenix Solutions, LLC to provide mail and consulting services for members of the Tennessee General Assembly.
“Smith and others falsely claimed that Phoenix Solutions was operated by an experienced political consultant named “Matthew Phoenix.” In fact, ‘Matthew Phoenix’ was a fictitious person.”
The 58-year-old from Hixson received kickbacks in exchange for using her position to pressure the Tennessee House Speaker’s Office to approve Phoenix Solutions as a mailer program vendor and disperse state funds to Phoenix Solutions.
The information also alleged that in September and December 2020, Smith received two checks from Phoenix Solutions totaling more than $24,000, which she deposited into her consulting firm’s bank account.
Smith issued a statement Tuesday evening:
Earlier today, I entered into a plea agreement with the federal government. I have pled guilty to one count of honest services fraud. Once the Department of Justice informed me of the nature of my activities, I took full responsibility for my actions, culminating in my guilty plea. There are no excuses. I intend to cooperate fully as a witness with the federal government and do whatever I can to assist the government in this regard.
I have resigned as Representative of the Tennessee House. I did so out of respect for the honor of Tennesseans, my commitment to public service over the last several decades, and of course, my Christian faith. I believe in forgiveness and I hope to earn yours over time..
Serving is an honor. Rather than continuing to serve in the General Assembly, I intend to remain active in my community and my church. While this has been a difficult time in my life, I remain convinced that something positive will come out of it.
As you can imagine, I am not able to provide any additional comment at this time. If you have any questions or need any additional information, I would refer you to the plea agreement, which speaks for itself.Robin Smith
Sentencing will take place on Oct. 17. Smith faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Smith announced her resignation Monday. She was first elected in 2018 to serve District 26, which includes a portion of Hamilton County.