NEW YORK (AP) — The founder of a national charter school network who once served as a White House adviser under former President Barack ObamaFriday’s guilty plea was to the charge that he had stolen more than $200,000 from the network.
Seth Andrew (42), a founding member of Democracy Prep entered a plea to wire fraud in Manhattan federal court. He admitted that he transferred money from the charter school network to another bank account in 2019, without authorisation.
“I am truly sorry for what I have done,” an emotional Andrew, his voice cracking, told 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, a founding member of Democracy Prep was in New York City when the organization started in 2005. Its methods raised test scores in Harlem for children who were economically challenged. The program has since expanded to other parts of the United States.
Andrew resigned his position as superintendent of his school network in spring 2013 to join the U.S. Department of Education as well as the Office of Educational Technology. It lasted up to November 2016.
According to court documents, Andrew was accused of stealing $218,000 from schools that he created and using the money to get the highest interest rate offered by his bank on a mortgage for the $2 million Manhattan apartment he purchased with his wife.
Andrew admitted Friday that he tried to make it appear as though the money he took from the schools came from a civic organization he controls as he moved money from the schools network accounts to his personal accounts and later to the nonprofit’s account from March to October of 2019. According to bank staff, he said he had permission to transfer Democracy Prep money when in fact he wasn’t.
In a release, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said “Andrew, a former White House adviser, admitted today to devising a scheme to steal from the very same schools he helped create.”
He added: “Andrew now faces time in federal prison for abusing his position and robbing those he promised to help.”
Defense attorneys Tim Doherty and Edward Kim said in a statement that Andrew for over two decades “has worked tirelessly to expand educational, democratic, and technological opportunity to disenfranchised communities around the world.”
“Seth’s life has always been motivated by a civic mission and he deeply regrets his past mistakes. He has, with courage, accepted responsibility for them,” the lawyer said. “With the help and support of his family and loved ones, Seth looks forward to deepening his commitment to service and innovation in the next chapter of his life.”
Andrew will pay $218,000 in damages to Charter School Network. He was sentenced to prison on April 14. However, the defense and prosecution agreed to a plea agreement that Andrew should be sentencing between 21 and 27 months.