Craighead County Clerk Kade Holliday was arrested Monday and will be charged with theft of public funds — estimated at more than $1 million — after auditors alerted local officials to suspicious activity, a prosecuting attorney said Monday.
Second Judicial Circuit Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington announced in a news release that Holliday, 31, will be charged with multiple counts of felony theft of property greater than $2,500 and one count of abuse of office. Ellington said he also will file a petition asking a judge to remove Holliday from office.
Ellington said he received a phone call Thursday requesting a meeting with Craighead County Judge Marvin Day and Arkansas Legislative Audit officials.
“The auditors had obtained and examined bank records that raised suspicion of theft of county funds from an account Holliday maintained in his official capacity as county clerk,” Ellington said. “We then met with the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division and requested they open the investigation which led to Holliday’s arrest.”
Grant DeProw, chief deputy prosecuting attorney for Craig-head County, said a legislative audit uncovered information that Holliday was moving payroll funds into a personal account. DeProw said he doesn’t have any information how the money was being used or invested.
“We are just getting started when it comes to tracking the money,” he said.
Day said he doesn’t know the exact amount of money that went missing, but the investigation showed that Holli-day personally received money in excess of $1 million.
“This was a complete shock,” he said.
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 due to a $500,000 gift commitment from Holliday. He also pledged additional annual gifts while the endowments build to maturity.
University spokesman Bill Smith said 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.
“We are finding out along with the everybody else,” he said.
Holliday replaced the previous Craighead County clerk Nancy Nelms in 2012.
Nelms was first elected as clerk in 2000. She drew criticism when she admitted to making errors in paying payroll taxes that resulted in Internal Revenue Service interest and late fees of nearly $228,000.
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 local businesses in Jonesboro.