A retired football coach from Marengo County, one of six individuals indicted for their roles in a multiyear scheme to obtain state funds using fraudulent enrollment numbers, has become the third to announce his intent to plead guilty, records show.

David Webb Tutt is described in the indictment as a longtime friend of Trey Holladay, former superintendent of Athens City Schools and another of the six indicted. According to the indictment, Tutt was introduced to the scheme in early 2017 and asked to help recruit private schools into the scheme for the 2017-2018 school year.

In exchange, he would be paid by another indicted member, Greg Corkren, through Corkren's company, Educational Opportunities and Management LLC. Tutt would not only use a company he created, Tutt Educational, to receive the funds, he would in turn distribute the payments to himself, to private schools that were providing student information for the scheme and to Sage, a company created and managed by Holladay's wife, Deborah Holladay.

The indictment alleges Tutt helped recruit a private school by offering $800-per-month payments, 50 laptops, two charging carts, online curriculum access and standardized testing of students in exchange for student information that would be used to enroll them in a public school system. Tutt didn't tell the school which one, according to the indictment, but records show the students were enrolled in Genesis Innovate School, a virtual school in the Conecuh County school district.

He is accused of making similar deals with other private schools; using his company to make more than $280,000 in payments to nine private schools for their participation; and attending meetings with the Holladays, Corkren and ACS Executive Director of Planning Rick Carter in which they tried to recruit new private schools or tried to convince already participating private schools to dissolve and present instead as "nonprofit homeschool associations" whose students would be enrolled in Alabama Renaissance.

When ACS was told they needed to only enroll virtual students who lived within 100 miles of Athens, ACS decided to open a facility in Linden, known as Athens Renaissance's "Linden Hub," and Tutt even agreed to help Corkren mow its lawn, according to the indictment.

For his work, he received more than $580,000 from Ed Op and $30,000 from another company, which were each being paid at the time through contracts with ACS. The latter was then given to one of the private schools as a "donation" and "on the instructions of Trey Holladay" in exchange for a letter to ACS saying the school would be ceasing operations, according to the indictment.

Plea hearing

Total, the six individuals named in the indictment face more than 250 charges. Of them, Tutt is indicted on a single count: conspiracy to commit mail or wire fraud.

He joined the others in initially pleading not guilty. Since then, former Limestone County Schools Superintendent Tom Sisk and Corkren have each announced an intent to change their plea to guilty. Sisk faces the same lone count that Tutt does, while Corkren faces it and an additional count of aggravated identity theft.

A hearing regarding the plea changes for Corkren, Sisk and Tutt is tentatively set for Thursday. Tutt and Sisk have already agreed for the hearing to be held virtually given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Trial for the Holladays and Carter has been set for September. The News Courier will have more on the case in a future edition.

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