News & Politics

Former Obama Advisor Caught With His Hand in the Cookie Jar

AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

In an unusual act of prosecution across party lines, the Southern District of New York has obtained a guilty plea from a former senior advisor in the Obama White House. The U.S. Attorneys were miraculously able to take time away from their all-consuming persecutions — oops! I meant investigations — of former President Donald Trump, as well as anyone who ever gave him the time of day, to charge a prominent Democrat.

In a Friday statement, SDNY announced that Seth Andrew pled guilty to one charge of wire fraud, admitting that he stole $218,000 from a New York City network of charter schools that he founded.

“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,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a statement.

According to previous court filings, Andrew helped found a series of NYC-based charter schools called School Network-1 in 2005. The New York Post reported a simplified version of the accusations against Andrew at the time of his arrest on April 27, 2021:

Seth Andrew, 42, who founded Democracy Prep in 2005, embezzled the $218,005 to secure a lower interest rate on a multimillion-dollar Manhattan apartment in 2019, prosecutors alleged in a complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court Tuesday.

Andrew, who had split from the charter school network years prior, withdrew funds from escrow accounts linked to the network and put them in a bank account controlled by him, according to the complaint.

He used the funds to secure a lower interest rate for the apartment, which he and his spouse bought in Manhattan for more than $2 million, according to prosecutors.

In 2013, Andrew began working at the Obama Dept. of Education. He later advanced to the role of senior adviser in the Office of Educational Technology in the Obama White House. He continued to draw a salary from School Network-1 during this time. He reportedly left the White House in 2016 and the charter school network in 2017. In March of 2019, he began moving the funds out of escrow accounts associated with the three network schools and into accounts he opened under false pretenses, thereby defrauding the banks as he attempted to launder the money.

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Andrew had agreed to pay restitution to the charter school network. “Seth’s life has always been motivated by a civic mission and he deeply regrets his past mistakes,” stated Andrew’s attorney, Edward Kim. “He has, with courage, accepted responsibility for them. 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 is scheduled for sentencing on April 14. He faces up to 20 years in prison.