Former White House counsel pleads guilty to $218,000 school scam

The founder of the National Independent Schools Network, who previously served as an advisor to the White House under President Barack Obama, has pleaded guilty to an allegation that he stole more than $200,000 from the network.

NEW YORK – The founder of the National Independent Schools Network who previously served as an adviser to President Barack Obama’s White House pleaded guilty Friday to a charge he allegedly stole more than $200,000 from the network.

Seth Andrew, 42, founder of Middle School Democracy, filed the petition in Manhattan federal court for electronic fraud, admitting that he moved money in 2019 from the charter school network to other bank accounts without permission.

“I’m really sorry for what I did,” said emotional Andrew, in a broken voice, to US District Judge John B. Cronan. “What I did was wrong and I am deeply sorry for my actions.”

“As I stand before you today, I deeply regret the impact this has had on schools, alumni and my family,” he added.

In 2005, Andrew was the founder of Prep Democracy when it started in New York City. After her methods helped raise test scores for economically disabled children in Harlem, she expanded throughout the United States.

In the spring of 2013, Andrew left his role as a supervisor in his school network to work for the US Department of Education and as a senior advisor in the Office of Educational Technology at the White House. The job lasted until November 2016.

In court papers, authorities said Andrew stole $218,000 from the schools he helped set up and then used it to get the best interest rate his bank offered on a Manhattan apartment he bought with his wife for $2 million.

Andrew admitted Friday that he tried to make it appear as if the money he took from the schools came from a civic organization he controlled as he transferred the money from the schools network accounts to his personal accounts and then to the nonprofit’s account from March to October of 2019.

He said he told bank employees that he had permission to transfer the Democratic Prep money when he didn’t.

“Andrew, a former White House counsel, today admitted to plotting a robbery from the same schools he helped create,” US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

He added: “Andrew now faces a sentence in federal prison for misusing his position and stealing from those he promised to help.”

Defense attorneys Tim Doherty and Edward Kim said in a statement that Andrew has for more than two decades “worked tirelessly to expand educational, democratic and technological opportunities to disadvantaged communities around the world.”

“Seth’s life has always been driven by a civic mission and he deeply regrets his past mistakes. He has bravely taken 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 agreed to pay compensation to the charter schools network. The verdict was due on April 14, where he faces up to 20 years in prison.


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