Reported by CHUCK ROSS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER | April 27, 2021
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A former official in the Obama administration was charged Tuesday with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a charter school he founded, and using the funds to help finance a luxury apartment in Manhattan. Seth Andrew, who served in the Obama White House and Department of Education, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements to a financial institution in connection with a series of banking transactions he conducted in 2019.
Federal prosecutors allege that Andrew ripped off his own charter school organization, Democracy Prep Public Schools, to the tune of $218,005. Andrew founded the New York City-based charter school in 2005. He joined the Department of Education in 2013 and later worked in the Obama White House’s office of educational technology. Andrew was paid by the charter school network while working in the Obama administration, according to prosecutors. He cut ties with the organization in January 2017.
Prosecutors allege that Andrew withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars from Democracy Prep’s bank accounts even though he was no longer affiliated with the school network.
Andrew allegedly deposited the funds in his own bank accounts in order to obtain an interest rate discount on a $1,776,000 mortgage he and his wife secured on a Manhattan apartment.
News reports have identified Andrew’s wife as Lana Zak, a CBS News anchor.
“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,” Audrey Strauss, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, 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.”
According to Andrew’s LinkedIn account, he served as senior advisor to the White House’s chief technology officer. He “built and supported” several Obama initiatives, including the website Vote.gov, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Andrew did not respond to a request for comment through his LinkedIn page.