Seth Andrew, a former White House adviser and Department of Education official under President Barack Obama, was arrested Tuesday and charged with wire fraud, money laundering and making false statements to a financial institution, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.
Andrew is accused of stealing $218,005 from the national charter school network he founded, according to the announcement. He allegedly used more than half of the stolen money from the network of public charter schools to secure a better interest rate on a mortgage for a multimillion-dollar Manhattan apartment.
“The money he took belonged to an institution serving school-aged children,” William F. Sweeney Jr., Federal Bureau of Investigation assistant director, said in the Justice Department's press release. “Today Andrew himself is learning one of life’s most basic lessons -- what doesn’t belong to you is not yours for the taking.”
Andrew helped to found Democracy Prep, a national charter school network formerly based in New York City's Harlem neighborhood, in 2005, according to a criminal complaint. He left his position as its superintendent in spring 2013 to work for the U.S. Department of Education, followed by a role as a senior adviser at the Office of Educational Technology at the White House, where he served through November 2016. He stole from the school network’s escrow accounts in 2019, two years after he officially cut ties with the Democracy Prep, according to prosecutors.
In recent years, Andrew has also worked in the higher education sector. His social venture incubator, Democracy Builders, bought Marlboro College in Vermont to create a hybrid late high school-early college program for low-income and first-generation students. The two-year program, Degrees of Freedom, launched in September 2020.
Andrew appeared in Manhattan federal court Tuesday and was released on $500,000 bail. His attorney, Michael Yaeger, told CNBC he will plead not guilty.