Former state rep pleads guilty to federal wire fraud charge

Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 4:00 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 8, 2022 at 7:02 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Former Tennessee State Rep. Robin Smith pleaded guilty to a single count of honest services wire fraud in federal court on Tuesday after charges were filed last week.

Smith, 58, of Hixson, Tennessee, represented Tennessee House District 26 in Hamilton County until her resignation on Monday.

Smith issued a statement via her attorney after she left the courthouse.

“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.”

According to criminal Information filed in U.S. District Court, 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.

Former state Rep. Robin Smith leaves the federal courthouse in Nashville after pleading guilty to a wire fraud charge.

Smith 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.

According to the Information, a court document, Smith helped others, including two unnamed individuals believed to be former Speaker of the House Glen Casada and his former chief of staff Cade Cothren, devised and intended to devise a scheme to defraud the citizens of the Middle District of Tennessee.

According to the Information, the unnamed individual 1 was a member of the Tennessee House, first elected in 2003 and served as Speaker of the Tennessee House from around January 2019 until around August 2019 when he resigned as Speaker after a scandal became public. The unnamed individual 2 was a businessman and former Chief of Staff to Individual 1 when he was Tennessee House Speaker.

Smith will be sentenced on Oct. 17. According to court documents filed on Friday, Smith could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison with no minimum sentence and fined not more than $250,000.

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