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Ex school heads jailed for virtual learning fraud

Two disgraced education bosses have been sentenced to jail terms after pleading guilty to fraudulently enrolling people in “virtual schools” and then claiming money on their behalf from state funds, the Department of Justice reports.

Former Athens City school superintendent William Holladay and ex-Limestone County head Thomas Sisk were sentenced to 60 and 18 months respectively for falsely claiming money from the Alabama State Department of Education.

The virtual places they were claiming for had not been filled – instead Holladay and Sisk pocketed the money, along with their two accomplices, Gregory Corkren and David Tutt, who also received jail terms.

Now all four will have to empty their pockets while doing time, paying restitution to the state of Alabama worth millions of dollars in total.

“Districts received payments from Alabama’s Education Trust Fund as if the students actually attended public schools,” said the DoJ, announcing the convictions by the US Attorney’s Office in Alabama. “The defendants skimmed the state money through direct cash payments and payments to third-party contractors owned by the various co-conspirators.”

Holladay has been ordered to pay more than $2.86 million, while Corkren – handed a 22-month sentence after also pleading guilty to aggravated identity theft – must pay $1.3 million. Tutt will serve 24 months and owes the state just under $259,000.

Only Sisk escaped a penalty running into six figures or more, being ordered to pay $28,000 in fines and restitution – but like his fellow fraudsters he is not eligible for parole under federal law, and will have to serve an additional three years under supervision after serving his jail term.

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