Seth Andrew, a former White House advisor to former President Barack Obama, was charged on Tuesday, April 27 with stealing a total of $218,005 from a charter school network.
In connection with his schemes to steal this money, Andrew has been charged by federal authorities with counts of money laundering, wire fraud and making false statements to a financial institution.
The charter school network in question is called Democracy Prep Public Schools, and it has branches in several states, most prominently in New York. Even worse, Andrew himself was one of the founders of this network.
He founded Democracy Prep in 2005, and though he left the organization in 2013, he is being accused of using his power and position as the network’s founder to make it easier to launder money.
From White House Advisor to Thief
According to a public statement on the case made by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, “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. Andrew is not only alleged to have stolen the schools’ money but also to have used the stolen funds to obtain savings on a mortgage for a multimillion-dollar Manhattan apartment. Thanks to the FBI’s diligent work, Andrew now faces federal charges for his alleged scheme.”
In short, it appears that Andrew stole money from Democracy Prep and then used it so that he could put more money down on, and hence secure a lower rate for, the mortgage on his apartment.
Also commenting on the situation, the current CEO of Democracy Prep, Natasha Trivers, had this to say: “Seth left our network in 2013. His alleged actions are a pound betrayal of all that we stand for and to you and your children, the scholars and families that we serve.”
She also added, “To be clear, at no time did the alleged crimes pose any risk to our students, staff or operations in any way. The network’s finances remain strong…”
Under former President Obama, Andrew served as the main advisor to the Secretary of Education and then as an advisor to the White House Office of Educational Technology. Andrew also happens to be married to CBS News anchor Lana Zak.
This story is just one more in a long line of instances of corruption and betrayal of trust by those in positions of power and authority. Such things have become lamentably common, and few doubt that we are likely to see many more such stories in the future.