An education adviser to former President Barack Obama was arrested Tuesday and charged with stealing more than $200,000 from Democracy Prep, a public charter school network he founded, federal authorities said.
Seth Andrew stole $218,005 from the network in order to receive a good mortgage on a Manhattan apartment worth $2.4 million, CNBC reported.
He is facing charges of wire fraud, money laundering and making false statements to a financial institution.
Andrew is expected to appear in Manhattan Federal Court late Tuesday.
“As alleged, Seth Andrew abused his position as a founder of a charter school network to steal from the very same schools he helped create,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a news release.
“Andrew is not only alleged to have stolen the schools’ money but also to have used the stolen funds to obtain a savings on a mortgage for a multimillion-dollar Manhattan apartment,” she continued.
In 2019, when he was no longer affiliated with the prep school network, Andrew allegedly stole from several escrow accounts he had previously set up for schools within the network, according to CNBC. He later used their funds to launch a business account at a bank under the guise of one of the schools.
Andrew was shown in video footage at the bank closing a school’s escrow account back in October 2019, according to the criminal complaint.
Andrew will plead not guilty in federal court, Michael Yaeger, his attorney, said.
Natasha Trivers, CEO of Democracy Prep, said in an email to the network’s community that a “series of financial safeguards” implemented after she started her tenure in 2019 “led directly to the discovery of Seth’s unauthorized withdrawals.”
Trivers said that, upon this discovery, the network notified officials and has cooperated with the criminal investigation.
“Seth left our network in 2013,” Trivers wrote in the email, according to CNBC.
“His alleged actions are a profound betrayal of all that we stand for and to you and your children, the scholars and families that we serve. To be clear, at no time did the alleged crimes pose any risk to our students, staff or operations in any way.”
While serving at Democracy Prep, Andrew accepted a job in the Obama administration, at the U.S. Department of Education, in 2013. He was then a senior adviser in the Office of Educational Technology at the White House.
He was still on the Democracy Prep payroll while being a pubic servant, authorities said. He ended his connection with the network in early 2017 as Obama was leaving office.
Andrew was a notable figure within the realm of charter schools after he founded Democracy Prep in 2005, according to the New York Daily News.
The network became a prominent leader among New York City schools in math and reading scores. It eventually expanded outside of New York, launching 21 schools and educating 6,500 students.
Story cited here.