HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — As criminal proceedings in the case against six Alabama school officials come to a close, attorneys are moving forward with a civil class action lawsuit.
A jury has found Rick Carter, a former Athens City Schools administrator, guilty on several charges related to a multi-million dollar virtual academy fraud scheme.
In February 2021, Carter was among six education officials — including former Athens Superintendent Trey Holladay and former Limestone County Superintendent Tom Sisk — to be indicted in a scheme where they allegedly defrauded the state of Alabama by claiming private school students in a handful of Alabama Black Belt schools, were enrolled in a virtual Athens City Schools academy.
Huntsville attorney Will League says he believes the scheme involved many more people than who are being held criminally liable and is moving forward with a civil class action lawsuit.
“In our civil case, we have charged them with racketeering, which you usually hear in mob cases, which is really an agreement of several people to conduct unlawful crime. In this case, it’s civil racketeering, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy,” says attorney Will League.
League is representing the students whose identities were used for criminal enterprise.
“Part of the scheme was to steal the identities of private school students,” said League. “Their private information was used to trick the state of Alabama into thinking that they were students at Renaissance online program and thereby, the program got more money from the state.”
The civil suit is against all co conspirators, which League believes is more than the six people originally indicted.
“There’s a higher level of proof in a criminal claim than there is a civil claim,” League explained. “And so we feel like after we’re able to conduct discovery, get depositions and documents that the conspiracy actually will wider than those who were originally charged in a criminal federal complaint.”
League says in a digital age, he feels victims need peace of mind.
“Their stolen identities were used in a criminal enterprise,” League continued. “And in this digital age, it’s very troubling to have your private information out there in the hands of criminals… So we have to make sure that their their information is safeguarded, and what protections they’re going to need in the future.”
League says Rick Carter may choose to appeal his conviction which would delay the time before the civil case can move forward.