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story.lead_photo.caption Kade Holliday, former Craighead County clerk

Craighead County Clerk Kade Holliday resigned Monday afternoon and was charged Tuesday with 13 felonies related to theft of public funds -- estimated at more than $1 million -- after auditors alerted officials to suspicious activity.

Holliday, 31, was charged with 12 counts of felony theft of property and one count of abuse of public trust a day after being arrested. Holliday's bail was set at $150,000.

Bryan Helton, a jailer at the Craighead County jail, said Holliday paid 10% of the amount Tuesday and was released.

Grant DeProw, chief deputy prosecuting attorney for Craighead County, said Holliday will be required to wear an ankle monitor, report to his probation officer once a week, surrender his passport and firearms and have no contact with courthouse employees.

Patrick Benca, a Little Rock lawyer representing Holliday, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that Holliday will cooperate with the investigation and tendered his resignation, "believing it to be in the best interests of the citizens of Craighead County."

Holliday was elected to office at the age of 24 in 2012 and was named in Arkansas Business' "20 in their 20s" list. He also invested in businesses in Jonesboro.

A probable-cause affidavit stated that Holliday began transferring thousands of dollars from the county's payroll holding account into his personal account beginning on Jan. 23 and continued until June 24. To date, the amount of the transfers is $1,579,057, according to court documents.

Holliday transferred the funds from a county-owned bank account to his personal bank accounts on 12 occasions and used it for his personal benefit, the affidavit stated. The actions created a deficit to Craighead County for unpaid payroll taxes and retirement contributions, court records show.

Marvin Day, county judge of Craighead County filed a lawsuit Monday against Holliday seeking several possible civil remedies to restore county funds.

"We have no tolerance for the abuse of public trust in our county," Day said in a news release. "Mr. Holliday held a position of trust with our citizens and he abused that trust to the fullest extent. The county is seeking to determine any and all avenues of recovery for the citizens of Craighead County and will prosecute claims to the fullest extent."

Day also said he was determined to institute further rules and regulations to ensure safeguards are in place to prevent any similar actions in the future.

Holliday was responsible for completing and submitting payroll reports, including unemployment insurance, income taxes, Social Security taxes, retirement system contributions and health and life insurance.

Court documents state Holliday defrauded and embezzled money from the county through a history of failing to pay retirement accounts, state and federal taxes and more.

Various entities, including the Department of Finance of Administration, the Arkansas Public Retirement System, and the Internal Revenue Service have not received approximately $1,410,799 from the county.

Day's suit states that Holliday should be ordered by the court to set aside and preserve all funds or assets in control of Holliday up to $1.4 million.

Arkansas State University announced last year the creation of an endowed professorship of jazz studies and an endowed scholarship for outstanding students in the jazz program from a $500,000 gift commitment from Holliday. He also pledged additional annual gifts while the endowments build to maturity.

University spokesman Bill Smith said Monday that the school officials along with the university's administration are reviewing the future of the pledged gift. He said the university will be monitoring the legal process.

Smith said nothing had changed on that front as of Tuesday afternoon.

Holliday replaced Nancy Nelms in 2012 as county clerk.

Nelms was first elected in 2000. She drew criticism when she admitted to making errors in paying payroll taxes that resulted in IRS interest and late fees of nearly $228,000.


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