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Former Craighead County Clerk Gets 10 Years For Embezzlement

3 min read

Former Craighead County Clerk Jacob “Kade” Holliday was sentenced to 10 years in state prison Monday after he pleaded guilty to forgery and stealing nearly $14,000 from a nonprofit where he was the treasurer.

The 33-year-old still faces federal charges in connection with embezzling more than $1.6 million from taxpayers while he was county clerk. Holliday, who was elected as the state’s youngest county clerk in 2012, resigned from office in June 2020.

In Craighead County Circuit Court, Holliday was accused of stealing money from the Northeast Arkansas Leadership Business Council. Formed in November 2019, the NALBC planned to use the money for underprivileged school children.

NALBC officials told investigators in July 2020 that there should have been about $15,000 in the account from memberships fees, club dues and fundraisers. But when officials checked the account, they found only $6.78, according to documents in the criminal file. Holliday acted as treasurer for the organization and was the only person listed on the bank account.

He was charged with four felony theft of property counts and two misdemeanor counts of theft of property.

Holliday also pleaded guilty to a felony forgery charge in connection with forging signatures on an Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control liquor license application. He was sentenced to 10 years on the forgery charge and five years each on two of the theft charges. The sentences will run at the same time. For the remaining two theft of property charges, Holliday received a suspended sentence of six years each. The misdemeanor counts were dismissed.

Holliday also agreed to pay $13,963 in restitution to the nonprofit. He is scheduled to report to the Craighead County Sheriff’s Department on Dec. 10 to begin serving his sentence. Because the charges are nonviolent, Holliday is expected to serve about 18 to 20 months in state prison. If Holliday is convicted on the federal charges, he would most likely serve that time after completing his state sentence.

“Mr. Holliday is pleased to have the state charges resolved and is prepared to begin his sentence on the state case,” Holliday’s defense attorney, Dustin McDaniel of McDaniel Wolff & Benca of Little Rock, told Arkansas Business. “He will continue to cooperate with the Department of Justice and we will work towards the resolution of his federal case in coming weeks.”

Before Holliday pleaded guilty, another one of his attorneys, Patrick J. Benca, asked that the case be moved out of Craighead County.

“The alleged victims in this matter is every tax paying citizen in the County of Craighead,” Benca wrote in a motion. Circuit Judge Randy Philhours didn’t rule on the motion, but at a hearing Monday, it appeared he was going to move the trial to Paragould.

Meanwhile, Holliday is preparing for his federal trial.

In December 2020, Holliday was indicted in U.S. District Court on 11 counts of federal wire fraud for allegedly taking more than $1.4 million in county money for his personal use. Holliday has pleaded not guilty. That case is scheduled for Feb. 22 in U.S. District Court with Judge James M. Moody Jr. presiding.

Holliday filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in October 2020, listing $3.8 million in debts and $1.6 million in assets.

The trustee in Holliday’s bankruptcy case is trying to prevent Holliday from receiving a discharge on his debts. The trustee said in a court filing that Holliday “has failed to explain satisfactorily the loss of the embezzled funds.”

Holliday’s bankruptcy attorney Walden M. Cash of North Little Rock denied the allegations in court filings.

That case is pending.

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