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Former Obama Advisor Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud For Stealing More Than $200,000

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Former President Obama and his minions love to talk about his administration being “scandal free” even though it had more than its fair share of scandals.

But this latest one, though not done during his administration, shows that not everyone that worked with him was squeaky clean.

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Seth Andrew, 42, a former White House advisor to former President Obama, has pleaded guilty to one federal count of wire fraud for theft of more than $200,000 from a charter school network that he was one of the founders of.

He attempted to launder the funds in order to get a lower rate on his mortgage on a Manhattan apartment, prosecutors said.

“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,” United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said in a press release from the Justice Department.

In 2005, SETH ANDREW helped create “School Network-1,” a series of public charter schools then based in New York City.  In the Spring of 2013, ANDREW left School Network-1 and accepted a job in the United States Department of Education and, thereafter, as a senior advisor in the Office of Educational Technology at the White House.  In November 2016, ANDREW left his role in the White House and, shortly thereafter, in January 2017, ANDREW officially severed his relationship with School Network-1.

School Network-1’s New York based charter schools must maintain an “escrow account” that may be accessed only if the school dissolves.  Three such escrow accounts, for three New York City based-School Network-1 schools, were opened by ANDREW and other School Network-1 employees, at  “Bank-1” in 2009, 2011 and 2013.  As to each of those three accounts ‑- Escrow Account-1, Escrow Account-2 and Escrow Account-3 — ANDREW was a signatory and had access to the funds in them.  However, pursuant to the charter agreement, the funds in the Escrow Accounts were reserved in case the school dissolved, and the funds could not be moved by ANDREW, or anyone, without proper authorization.

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After he severed his relationship with School Network-1, on March 28, 2019, ANDREW entered a Bank-1 branch in New York City and closed both Escrow Account-1 and Escrow Account-2.  Bank-1 provided ANDREW a bank check in the amount of $71,881.23 made payable to “[School Network-1] Charter School” (“Check-1”) and a second bank check in the amount of $70,642.98 to “[School Network-1] Harlem Charter” (“Check-2”). 

The same day that ANDREW closed Escrow Account-1 and Escrow Account-2, ANDREW entered a Manhattan branch of a different FDIC insured bank (“Bank-2”) and opened a business bank account in the name of “[School Network-1] Charter School” (“Fraud Account‑1”).  To open that account, ANDREW misrepresented to a Bank-2 employee that he was a “Key Executive with Control of” School Network-1 Charter School and supported that misrepresentation with emails sent to the Bank-2 employee.  ANDREW then deposited Check-1 into the account. Five days later, on April 2, 2019, ANDREW used an ATM machine in Baltimore, Maryland to deposit Check-2 into Fraud Account‑1. 

This comes around the same time that State’s Attorney for Baltimore Marilyn Mosby, whose career was boosted by Vice President Kamala Harris, has been indicted on federal charges of perjury and filing false mortgage applications in connection to two Florida vacation homes.

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The indictment states that Mosby fraudulently cited a federal CARES Act provision that allowed for emergency distributions of up to $100,000 from her retirement plan “in the event of a furlough, layoff, quarantine, reduced work hours, lack of childcare, or impact on a person’s business caused by COVID.”

Prosecutors allege that she used $36,000 in May 2020 and $45,000 in December of 2020 as down payments on vacation homes in Kissimmee and Long Boat Key, Florida.

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She received the funds while she was earning a gross salary of almost $248,000.

She is also being charged with two counts of making false statements on mortgage applications where she applied to get over $900,000 in loans to purchase the two Florida properties.

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