Seth Andrew, who was also a senior advisor in the federal Office of Educational Technology under President Barack Obama, has been accused of wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements to a financial institution. Seth is alleged to have wrongfully acquired more than Ksh. 21.6 million ($200,000) from his school so that he could get a better deal on an apartment.
Andrew is also the former Global Director of policy and partnerships at Bridge International Academies which also operates in Kenya.
“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,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in a statement.
Before he put the money in his own accounts, Andrew passed it through a series of transactions using the accounts of Democracy Builders, a sister organization, the police said. The criminal complaint includes a surveillance image of Andrew sporting his signature Democracy Prep yellow cap in a bank while he carried out his scheme in 2019, authorities added.
“Andrew was philosophically opposed to funding any of the schools in (Democracy Prep) with anything other than government funding,” a Democracy Prep board member told the FBI, according to the complaint.
A 2019 audit of Democracy Prep’s finances noted that school officials had reported a suspected theft, but didn’t appear to recommend any further action.
James Merriman, the CEO of the New York Charter Center, said the oversight process worked as intended. “What this demonstrates to me is that charter schools have systems in place to catch people who try to defraud them, which is as it should be,” he said.
Andrew, 42, will plead not guilty, attorney Michael Yaeger said. The educator was released on $500,000 bond and ordered to remain in Vermont, where he lives, except for court appearances and other approved trips.