May 23, 2022

Obama-era education official pleads guilty in scheme to steal from charter schools

A former adviser to the Obama administration has just pleaded guilty to wire fraud committed as part of a broader plan to pilfer substantial sums from a charter school network he founded, according to Fox News.

A Department of Justice press release indicated that Seth Andrew, 42, “admitted today to devising a scheme to steal from the very same schools he helped create” and “now faces time in federal prison for abusing his position and robbing those he promised to help.”

As the Justice Department noted, in 2005, Andrew launched a group of charter schools in New York known as “School Network-1,” but ultimately left that role in 2013 to accept a position with the U.S. Department of Education and later served as a a senior adviser in the Obama White House Office of Educational Technology.

Based on the terms of the charter agreements entered into by the network’s schools, each one was required to maintain escrow accounts that were only accessible if and when the schools dissolved. It is alleged, however, that following his split from the network, Andrew accessed those accounts himself and moved $218,000 from them into fraudulently opened accounts that he controlled.

That conduct led to Andrew’s arrest in 2021 on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, as well as making false statements to a financial institution, as the Daily Caller noted.

In a court appearance before Judge John Cronan on Friday, Andrew entered his guilty plea to a single count of wire fraud and apologized for his unlawful conduct.

“I am truly sorry for what I have done. What I did was wrong and I deeply regret my actions,” Andrew declared, adding, “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.”

As part of his plea agreement, Andrew has agreed to remit restitution to the charter school network in the amount of $218,000, and he is slated for sentencing on April 14 on the lone count of wire fraud, which carries a possible maximum of 20 years imprisonment.

The greed-fueled reversal of fortune experienced by a onetime up-and-coming White House official should serve as a cautionary tale to anyone considering taking illegal advantage of a position of influence to generate personal profit, but sadly, the temptation seems to prove irresistible for far too many.

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