Holladay, Sisk sentenced, Carter awaits his fate

·2 min read

Jul. 23—Former Athens City Schools superintendent Trey Holladay was sentenced Thursday afternoon to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to participating in a multiyear scheme to defraud the state education system. The scheme involved fraudulently enrolling students in Alabama virtual schools.

Holladay's sentence is set to begin September 1, 2022. After being released from prison, Holladay will have three years of supervised probation. He must also pay $2.87 million in restitution to Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE).

Former Limestone County Superintendent Tom Sisk was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty on April 8, 2021, to conspiring to defraud the United States government. He was ordered to pay a fine of $15,000 and restitution in the amount of $13,000 to ALSDE. He must report to begin his sentence on August 30, 2022. Following his release, Sisk was also given three years of supervised release.

Both Sisk and Holladay plead guilty in a complex scheme that began in 2016 with co-defendant administrator Rick Carter. The plan gave Athens City and Limestone County school systems the appearance of increased enrollment figures through their virtual school options leading to additional funding from the Alabama State Board of Education.

Two other co-defendants in the case were also sentenced Thursday and ordered to pay restitution to the ALSDE for their roles in the fraud scheme. Retired teacher Greg Corkren was sentenced to 22 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $1.3 million in restitution. Former Marengo Academy football coach David Tutt was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison and pay $259,000 in restitution as well as a $15,000 fine.

Former Athens principal Rick Carter, who was convicted in March for his participation in the scheme, is scheduled to be sentenced on August 3, 2022 and faces up to 20 years in prison.

Dr. Wayne Reynolds, who serves as Vice President of the Alabama State Board of Education, said following Thursday's sentencing, "The sentence of five years is harsh but appropriate. Mr. Holladay took advantage of the state, our local citizens, and the trust the students put in him. Five years is a long time with no chance of parole."

As for Sisk's sentence, Reynolds said, "It is unfortunate that he is in this situation but it is of his own doing and his own admission of guilt."

"I don't wish ill on anybody. I wish for justice, and in this case, I believe justice is being done. Now we must put this matter behind us and move forward with our new leadership and new directions," Reynolds said.

The FBI and the United States Department of Education's Office of Inspector General investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan S. Ross, Alice S. LaCour, and Brett J. Talley prosecuted the case.