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A former Obama administration adviser pleaded guilty to wire fraud and stealing $218,000 from charter schools, announced the Southern District of New York (SDNY) on Friday.
“Seth Andrew, a former White House advisor, admitted today to devising a scheme to steal from the very same schools he helped create. Andrew now faces time in federal prison for abusing his position and robbing those he promised to help,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams on Friday.
Former President Barack Obama speaks at a rally to support Michigan democratic candidates at Detroit Cass Tech High School on Oct. 26, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
According to the Department of Justice, in 2005, Andrew created “School Network-1,” a series of New York-based charter schools. In 2013, Andrew left his position at the school and took a role in the Department of Education. He later became a senior adviser in the White House’s Office of Educational Technology.
In 2019, Andrew closed three escrow accounts that, pursuant to the charter agreement, were only to be shut down in the case that the schools dissolved, and “funds could not be moved by Andrew, or anyone, without proper authorization,” according to SDNY.
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, shows Damian Williams. (Courtesy of U.S. Attorney’s Office via AP)
He then deposited the money from two of the closed escrow accounts into a new business bank account. According to DOJ, in order to open the new business account, he misrepresented to a bank employee that he was a “‘Key Executive with Control of’ School Network-1 Charter School and supported that misrepresentation with emails.”
In addition, he deposited the third escrow account funds into an account that he opened at another bank.
Sign Robert F Kennedy Justice Department Building Pennsylvania Avenue Washington DC Completed in 1935. Houses 1000s of lawyers working at Justice. (iStock)
All the deposits of the stolen money were eventually transferred into an account under Andrew’s complete control, amounting to more than $200,000.
“I am truly sorry for what I have done,” said Andrew on Friday before Judge John P. Cronan. “What I did was wrong and I deeply regret my actions. And, as I stand before you today, I have tremendous remorse for the impact it has had on the schools, the alumni and my own family.”
Andrew has agreed to pay $218,000 in restitution to the Charter School Network.
He is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Cronan on April 14, 2022. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.