Former School Superintendent Pleads Guilty in Virtual Education Fraud Case
Montgomery, Ala. – On Thursday, December 16, 2021, William L. Holladay, III, 57, now a resident of Montgomery, Alabama, pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to defraud the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) by falsely inflating the number of students enrolled in public virtual schools, announced the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama. Prior to October of 2020, Holladay was the superintendent of the Athens, Alabama City Schools System (ACS).
When he entered his guilty plea, Holladay admitted that he, along with co-defendant Thomas Michael Sisk, superintendent of the Limestone County Schools system (LCS), conspired to fraudulently inflate the number of students enrolled in their systems. According to court records and information contained in Holladay’s plea agreement, Holladay and Sisk did so when they submitted to the ALSDE lists of enrolled students who were, in reality, full-time students at private schools located in other parts of the state.
As a result of reporting these fraudulently enrolled students, the school systems received payments from Alabama’s Education Trust Fund as if the students actually attended public schools. Holladay, and his co-defendants, would then take portions of the money given to the school systems for their own personal use.
To obtain private school student information for use in the scheme, the defendants offered various benefits to private schools, most of which were located in Alabama’s Black Belt region. Those benefits included: laptop computers, access to online curriculum, standardized testing, and monetary payments. The students whose identities were used in the scheme had little to no connection to the public-school districts. Those students continued to attend brick-and-mortar private schools each day; they continued to participate in private school athletics; and their parents continued to pay tuition to the private schools.
At some upcoming date, Holladay will be sentenced. He faces a maximum five-year prison sentence, as well as substantial monetary penalties. Co-defendant William Richard Carter, Jr. is currently set for trial on February 7, 2022. Co-defendants Gregory Earl Corkren, David Webb Tutt, and Thomas Michael Sisk, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government. Gregory Corkren also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan S. Ross, Alice S. LaCour, and Brett J. Talley are prosecuting the case.