Former Limestone superintendent and others set to plead guilty in fraud case

Former Limestone superintendent and others set to plead guilty in fraud case
Tom Sisk (Source: WAFF)

ATHENS, Ala. (WAFF) - UPDATE: Former Superintendent Tom Sisk and retired educator Gregory Corkren are both set to plead guilty in the ongoing fraud case involving Athens and Limestone County.

Sisk’s attorney Russell Crumbley filed a notice of intent on Thursday to change the initial plea of not guilty to a plea of guilty on the current Conspiracy charge.

Corkren’s notice also claimed his intent to change his plea from not guilty to guilty on his current Conspiracy and Fraud charges.

The change of plea hearings for both of these men are set for April 8 by video conference.

See the full notice below:

Thomas Sisk by Wade Smith on Scribd


Read WAFF’s previous story on the U.S. Department of Justice charges against Tom Sisk


The U.S. Department of Justice released an indictment Tuesday related to the investigation of a former Superintendent of Athens City Schools.

William Lee “Trey” Holladay, III formally separated from Athens City Schools in October 2020. The FBI started investigating Holladay’s home in June 2020. The federal investigation has been ongoing since that time.

Holladay faces the following charges:

  • Conspiracy to Defraud the United States
  • Fraud by Wire, Radio or Television (87 counts)
  • Fraud with Identification Documents (35 counts)

The indictment states the purpose of the conspiracy was to obtain greater state funding allocations through the Foundation Program than they would otherwise have been entitled. This was accomplished by enrolling full time in-person students into their respective virtual schools.

ACS would then use, directly and indirectly, portions of the excess money to fund the completion of capital projects, including, the new campus of Athens High School.

Trey and Deborah Holladay released the following statement following the indictment’s release:

We are a family of teachers and coaches. There is absolutely no way that we would do anything detrimental to the school system. The charges against us are unfounded and will be vigorously defended. We appreciate so much the overwhelming support from our friends and community.

See the full indictment below:

Five others were named in Tuesday’s indictment.

Deborah Irby Holladay

Deborah Holladay is the wife of Trey Holladay and was a teacher employed by the Athens City School District at the times investigated.

Holladay faces the following charges:

  • Conspiracy to Defraud the United States
  • Fraud by Wire, Radio or Television (6 counts)

William Richard Carter, Jr.

Rick Carter is an employee of the Athens City School District with some past duties including technology teacher and virtual programs coordinator.

Upon reviewing the allegations against Dr. Rick Carter, Athens City Schools has placed him on administrative leave until further notice. None of the other individuals charged in the indictment remain affiliated with Athens City Schools in any manner.

Carter faces the following charges:

  • Conspiracy to Defraud the United States
  • Fraud by Wire, Radio or Television (85 counts)
  • Fraud with Identification Documents (35 counts)

Gregory Earl Corkren

Gregory Corkren was a resident of Tuscaloosa County, Alabama and was a retired public educator. He is also listed as a friend of Trey Holladay in the indictment.

Corkren faces the following charges:

  • Conspiracy to Defraud the United States
  • Fraud with Identification Documents

David Webb Tutt

David Tutt was a resident of Marengo County. During his professional career, Tutt held various positions, including football coach at Marengo Academy in Linden. Tutt is listed as a longtime friend of Trey Holladay in the indictment.

Tutt faces the following charge:

  • Conspiracy to Defraud the United States

Thomas Michael Sisk

Thomas Sisk was the superintendent of the Limestone County, Alabama School District during the times investigated.

Sisk faces the following charge:

  • Conspiracy to Defraud the United States

Limestone County Schools released a response to the indictment:

“On Tuesday, February 23, 2021, Limestone County Schools learned it was mentioned in an indictment for involvement with a virtual school program during the 2016-2017 school year. While the school system was mentioned in the indictment brought in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, the indictment does not name the Limestone County Board of Education or anyone currently involved with Limestone County Schools as defendants. In fact, as mentioned during the Justice Department’s press conference, the indictment does not include any current Limestone County School employees. Moving forward, we will be a transparent and accountable school system which provides the best educational experience we can for our students.”

The Athens City Schools Board of Education held a special meeting Thursday at 7:30 a.m.

The Board of Education will have a Special Called Meeting on Thursday, February 25, 2021, at 7:30 a.m. in the central office board room. www.acs-k12.org/board

Posted by Athens City Schools on Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The following statement was read by Superintendent Beth Patton:

The Athens City Schools community is shocked and very concerned to read Tuesday’s release from the U.S. Attorney’s office. Over the past months, Athens City Schools has fully cooperated with the Department of Justice as its investigation proceeded. The school system will continue to work with federal officials and the Alabama State Department of Education as the matter proceeds in court. School officials have not discussed this matter at the request of federal officials, and will continue to refrain from discussing it. Upon reviewing the allegations against Dr. Rick Carter, Athens City Schools has placed him on administrative leave until further notice. None of the other individuals charged in the indictment remain affiliated with Athens City Schools in any manner.

WAFF’s Madison Scarpino was at the meeting. She says following the statement, the board unanimously voted to keep Rick Carter on administrative leave.

Athens City Board of Education upholds Rick Carter's leave
Athens City Board of Education upholds Rick Carter's leave (Source: Athens City Board of Education)

See WAFF’s story below from October 2020 when the Athens City Board of Education removed Holladay from his role as Superintendent.


OCTOBER 2020

Athens City School Superintendent Trey Holladay was placed on administrative leave after federal agents raided his home in June, 2020.

Now, after months of a federal investigation, the Athens City School Board of Education unanimously approved a $250,000 separation agreement with Holladay.

In the four months that the investigation has been underway, officials within the school system say they have fully cooperated with a federal investigation, and, per the superintendent’s contract, has continued to pay Holladay’s salary and related benefits.

The investigation remains ongoing and confidential at the request of federal officials. The Board has not been informed of a date certain for the conclusion of the investigation. Dr. Holladay has almost two years remaining on his superintendent contract.

Thursday night the Athens City School Board announced they are going forward in making changes in the district’s leadership.

After a full review of the situation and the uncertainties of the circumstances, the board of education believes it is both timely and appropriate to make a change in leadership as it is in the best interest of Athens City Schools.

Officials say this settlement payment resolves and eliminates any further compensation as well as other expenses which may have otherwise been obliged to pay related to the matter. The settlement also provides financial savings and more certainty for financial obligations under Holladay’s employment contract.

Holladay’s tenure as superintendent will end on October 31.

The Board says they will begin the process and timeline for posting and selecting a new superintendent within the next few weeks. They anticipate to have a new superintendent in place very soon.

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