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Ex-Obama White House aide arrested, accused of stealing from charter schools

A former Obama White House aide was arrested Tuesday and is accused of stealing more than $200,000 from a charter school network he founded.

Seth Andrew, 42, who served as a senior adviser in the Obama administration, was charged with one count of wire fraud, one count of money laundering and one count of making a false statement to a bank, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced.

Andrew, who was arrested in New York, served as a senior adviser in the White House Office of Educational Technology during the Obama administration. The complaint against him was unsealed Tuesday and he is slated to appear before a magistrate judge on Tuesday.

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Federal prosecutors allege Andrew stole $218,005 from the charter school network Democracy Prep Public Schools in 2019 — two years after severing ties with the institution — and then used the funds to qualify for a more favorable mortgage interest rate. He allegedly withdrew funds from the school network's escrow accounts, which he initially set up.

A spokesperson for Democracy Prep told The Hill that the network is not entirely sure how Andrew was allegedly able to access the accounts in question.

Andrew, who helped create the charter school network in New York in 2005, had left the company in 2013 to assume a post at the Department of Education before joining the White House. He left the administration in November 2016, according to prosecutors.

“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," Manhattan 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. Thanks to the FBI’s diligent work, Andrew now faces federal charges for his alleged scheme,” she added.

CEO Natasha Trivers, who took over leadership of Democracy Prep in early 2019, said in a letter to families in the network that Andrew's alleged unauthorized withdrawals were discovered after the company instituted a series of financial safeguards.

The Hill has reached out to Andrew for comment.