Seth Andrew, a former White House advisor to the ex-President Barack Obama, was arrested this week on charges related to him allegedly stealing $218,005 from a charter school network he founded.
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York stated that Andrew has been charged with wire fraud, money laundering, and giving false statements to a financial institution, according to CNBC. Andrew, who is due to appear in court later today, helped create Democracy Prep Public Schools, which operated schools in Harlem in New York City, and in Camden, New Jersey.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement. “Andrew is not only alleged to have stolen the schools’ money but also to have used the stolen funds to obtain a savings on a mortgage for a multimillion-dollar Manhattan apartment.”
The New York Post reported that Andrew previously worked as an advisor in the Obama White House in the Office of Educational Technology after taking a job at the start of Obama’s second term in 2013. He is married to CBS News anchor Lana Zak, who has not been charged in this case.
Prosecutors claim that in 2019, over two years after he severed ties with Democracy Prep, Andrew looted a series of escrow accounts he had previously set up for individual schools within the network of schools that encapsulate Democracy Prep. He then allegedly used the money to open a business account in the name of one of the schools at a bank.
Prosecutors released a surveillance photo from the bank that they say shows Andrew closing one of the schools’ escrow account there in October 2019. He can be seen in the image wearing a yellow hat, which an FBI agent noted in the complaint “is essentially Andrew’s ‘calling card,’” as it signifies a connection to Democracy Prep “and his leadership of it.”
At the time of his arrest, Andrew was working as a CEO of Democracy Builders, which bills itself as a “social sector studio that has launched more than $1b in enterprises that are changing the face of education, democracy, and technology around the world.”