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Tennessee lawmaker faces fraud charges in conspiracy involving former House Speaker

Glen Casada described as 'Individual 1'
Robin Smith 2.jpg
Posted at 10:41 AM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 08:27:30-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A sitting member of the Tennessee House of Representatives has been charged with wire fraud in association with an alleged conspiracy involving former House Speaker Glen Casada and his former chief of staff.

Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, is charged with one count of honest services wire fraud, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, according to an information filed in the U.S. District Court in Nashville. Casada is listed in the charging document as Individual 1, while his former aide Cade Cothren is listed as Individual 2.

Smith submitted her resignation effective Monday.

Her attorney has now filed a motion indicating that she will plead guilty to the charge. A change-of-plea hearing is set for Tuesday afternoon. In pleading guilty, Smith is expected to implicate Casada and Cothren, NewsChannel 5 has learned.

The charges stem from a mysterious company called Phoenix Solutions LLC that was set up by Cothren "for the purpose of offering mail and consulting services for legislative members facing primary challengers, and was later expanded to offer constituent mail services to members of the Tennessee General Assembly."

Smith, Casada and Cothren concealed Cothren's involvement in Phoenix Solutions "from the State and members of the Tennessee General Assembly due to the expectation that Phoenix Solutions would not be approved by the Tennessee House Speaker's Office, acting on behalf of the State, or hired as a vendor by individual members if (Cothren's) involvement was disclosed," the information alleges.

"Smith and (Casada) received kickbacks from (Cothren) in exchange for using their positions as members of the Tennessee House of Representatives to perform official acts, including pressuring the Tennessee House Speaker's Office to approve Phoenix Solutions as a Mailer Program vendor and disburse State funds to Phoenix Solutions."

On January 8, 2021, FBI agents raided the homes and offices of Smith, Casada, Cothren and Rep. Todd Warner, R-Lewisburg.

Warner is not referenced in the newly filed charging document.