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Former Limestone superintendent first to be sentenced in virtual school scam

Tom Sisk, who pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme, will serve 18 months in federal prison.

(STOCK)

Former Limestone County Superintendent Tom Sisk was sentenced by a federal judge to 18 months in prison for his role in a virtual school scam that bilked millions of dollars from Alabama’s public schools. 

Sisk, who pleaded guilty to a single conspiracy charge in April, was the first of four people to plead guilty to their roles in the scheme to be sentenced. He will report to prison at a later date. Sisk was also fined $15,000 and ordered to pay $13,000 in restitution. 

Former Athens Superintendent Trey Holladay, former teacher Greg Corkren and former Marengo High football coach Webb Tutt also pleaded guilty and await sentencing. Holladay’s wife, Deborah, who was originally indicted for her role in the scheme, had her charges dropped when Trey Holladay pleaded guilty. 

A sixth defendant, Rick Carter, was found guilty of several counts of fraud and identity theft after a brief federal trial in March. He now faces up to 20 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for August. 

In total, the Alabama Department of Education believes the six people robbed public schools of more than $5 million using a variety of methods to falsify virtual schools’ rolls and illegally gain more per-pupil funding. 

They also concocted a scheme in which Tutt and Corkren and Deborah Holladay created consulting companies that allegedly recruited students to the virtual schools. The school systems agreed to pay the consulting companies a percentage of the per-pupil funds. 

In reality, however, the participants of the scheme were falsifying student names and using the personal information of actively enrolled private school students to bump up enrollment numbers. 

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Written By

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

DIG DEEPER

Courts

The scheme saw educators steal the identities of students in private schools and then use them to bilk public schools out of millions.

Courts

Trey Holladay, the mastermind of the virtual school scam, was hit with a lengthy prison sentence and hefty fine.

Education

Because of state laws, Athens Schools officials have been unable to terminate Rick Carter, who was convicted in March of seven felonies

Courts

Rick Carter, who was principal of the year in Alabama in 2013, was accused of falsifying student records to skim state dollars.