Former White House advisor, under President Obama, pleads guilty to running wire fraud scheme
A former White House advisor is now looking at a possible 20-years behind bars when sentenced on April 14, 2022 for scheming to siphon $218,000 from charter schools -- that he founded, announced Damian Williams who is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
It all starts in 2005, when Seth Andrew, 42, helped found "School Network-1", which are several public charter schools, at that point located in New York City, which he left in 2013 to take a job with the U.S. DOE and then onto the White House where he was a senior advisor for the Office of Educational Technology, according to the DOJ.
"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," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.
Andrew cut ties with School Network-1 in 2017, a few months after leaving his role in the White House after serving in that role for nearly 4-years in the Obama administration.
He had access to the counts for three Escrow accounts for School Network-1 and its employees which he moved without proper authorization.
After cutting ties with the School Network, he closed two escrow accounts on March 28, 2019 in New York City, and was provided a bank check from that NYC bank for $71,881.23, which Attorney Williams said was 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”)."
When that transaction, business was done at this NYC bank, Andrew allegedly then entered another branch of a FDIC insured bank in Manhattan and opened a business banking account under the name of School Network-1 Charter School ("Fraud Account-1"), and in order to open the account, he told a Bank-2 employee 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. "
He then put the check he got from bank 1 into this new account and then used an ATM in Baltimore, Maryland 5-days later to deposit check-2 into the fraud account at bank-2.
That October, he closed out the 3rd escrow account and then got another check, made out to “[School Network-1] Endurance” for $75,481.10, which he later deposited into an account that he opened at a third bank (“Fraud Account-2”), Attorney Williams said.
That November, he got a check from Bank-2 for $144,473.29.
He then used the stolen funds from the first two escrow accounts and put them into the 2nd fraud account before turning the funds into a certificate of deposit which Attorney Williams said matured on May 20, 2020 and earned Andrew $2,083.52 in interest.
Finally, Andrew moved those funds as well as the escrow funds into a bank account which was in the name of a civic organization he controlled and was able to hide the money which was associated with School Network-1.
He then deposited the stolen money into an account under his full control.
To go along with his guilty plea, Andrew will pay restitution to the Charter School Network.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Ryan B. Finkel is in charge of the prosecution.