A former Johnson City official entered a guilty plea in federal court for embezzling more than $1 million from the city.
Anthony Michael Holland, 36, pleaded guilty in an Austin federal court on Wednesday, Dec. 15, to one count of theft from a state or local government that receives federal funds. The former Johnson City chief administrative officer and city secretary faces up to 10 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff for the Western District of Texas and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs announced the guilty plea.
A federal judge will sentence Holland at a later date yet to be set.
According to court records, Holland embezzled at least $1.175 million from 2015 through September 2020 from the city.
In a media release, Johnson City officials said Holland covered up his illegal activities by recording the transactions as if they were city expenditures. While some of the transactions were recorded as office supplies and other goods and services, Holland allegedly went to the extreme of creating a fictitious company to do business with the city.
Holland set up a counterfeit invoice and even enlisted someone to contact the city auditor and speak on behalf of the fictitious company. The ruse involved using fake email messages from a former city employee, according to the city’s media release.
Holland used the money to purchase goods for his own benefit, including a home in San Antonio.
Once the illegal activity came to light, the Johnson City Police Department, Johnson City officials, and staff worked to uncover Holland’s theft from the city and taxpayers. The city turned the investigation over to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.
“The City will continue to work with federal law enforcement officials on forfeiture and restitution matters to recover as much taxpayer money as possible,” Johnson City officials stated in the media release.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alan M. Buie and Robert Almonte are prosecuting the case.