Former Obama adviser pleads guilty to wire fraud in charter school theft scheme

A former education adviser to then-president Barack Obama pleaded guilty last week to wire fraud committed as part of a wider scheme to steal significant sums of money from a charter school network of which he was a founder and could now face a stiff prison term, as the New York Times reports.

As detailed by a Justice Department press release, back in 2005, Andrew launched a charter school company in New York known as “School Network-1,” and eventually left that role by 2013 to accept a position with the U.S. Department of Education and later serve as a senior adviser to the White House Office of Educational Technology during the Obama administration.

The charter contracts entered into by each of the schools in the network required each one to maintain escrow accounts designed to be accessible if and when the schools were permanently closed. However, it was alleged that after his departure from employment with the school network, Andrew accessed the accounts and shifted $218,000 from them into accounts he fraudulently opened and controlled.

Those actions eventually led to Andrew’s arrest in April of 2021 on a series of charges that included money laundering, wire fraud, and making false statements to a financial institution, according to the Daily Caller.

In the words of U.S. Attorney Damian Williams of the Southern District of New York on Friday, Andrew “admitted today to devising a scheme to steal from the very same schools he helped create” and “now faces time in federal prison for abusing his position and robbing those he promised to help.”

Andrew appeared Friday before Judge John Cronan and pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud, while also apologizing for the unlawful conduct.

“I am truly sorry for what I have done. What I did was wrong and I deeply regret my actions,” Andrew stated, adding, “and as I stand before you today, I have tremendous remorse for the impact it has had on the schools, the alumni and my own family.”

Pursuant to the terms of his plea, Andrew has committed to remitting restitution to the charter school network in the amount of $218,000, and he is expected to be sentenced on April 14 on the lone fraud count, which carries a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Mr. Andrew’s downfall should serve as a cautionary tale to those tempted to use positions of influence to generate personal profit, but sadly, his is a story of lawlessness that seems all too familiar and will surely be repeated by countless others to regrettable effect.