Attorney: Former superintendent Sisk saw guilty plea as best option

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Russell Crumbley, Former Limestone County Superintendent Tom Sisk’s attorney, said by the time his client was made aware of an investigation, the federal government already had its ducks in a row.

“If someone gets a letter telling them that they are under federal investigation, probably the better way for that letter to be worded is ‘we have investigated you,'” he said. “There were 50,000 pages, give or take, of documents. They had most if not all of them before they ever let anybody know they were under investigation.”

Those documents would lead to Sisk being charged with conspiracy to defraud the government in a multimillion-dollar virtual school fraud scheme involving Athens and Limestone County Schools.

Sisk pleaded guilty Thursday to the felony charge. He is due to be sentenced July 29.

“That wasn’t a decision that happened last week,” Crumbley said. “This was a decision we made probably back before COVID ever started.”

During the change of plea hearing, the now-retired school administrator said his guilty plea was quote, “the right thing to do.”

A plea agreement signed by Sisk suggests he will continue to cooperate with the federal government related to the case. That may mean testifying against alleged co-conspirators, including former superintendent of Athens City Schools Trey Holladay.

‘You know that is certainly a possibility. I think the plea agreement speaks to the fact that he’s been cooperative and will be.”

Even after agreeing to the deal, Sisk still faces up to 5 years in prison. But his legal counsel said taking the plea was the smart play.

“There are times when it’s appropriate to fight, there, there are times when it’s appropriate to acknowledge your mistake. Do what you can to fix it, and move on,” he said. “If it’s raining the only thing you can do is pull out an umbrella.”

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