Education Reform

Seth Andrew, Founder of Democracy Prep Charter Chain, Arrested by Federal Officials

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Federal officials arrested Seth Andrew, founder of the Democracy Prep charter chain, accusing him of taking money from the schools’ bank account to lower his mortgage rate on a new home. Andrew launched Democracy Prep in 2005; he left in 2013 to work the Obama Department of Education but retained financial ties with the charter chain. He severed his ties with the chain in January 2017.

Federal officials say he withdrew more than $200,000 from one of the schools’ accounts in 2019.

He is accused of wire fraud, money laundering, and making false claims to a bank.

CNBC reported:

Andrew, 42, was busted in New York City, where he and his wife, CBS News anchor Lana Zak, have a residence valued at more than $2 million. 

The founder of Democracy Prep Public Schools is accused of using more than half of the allegedly stolen money from that network to maintain a bank account minimum that gave him a more favorable interest rate for a mortgage on his and Zak’s Manhattan residence. Zak was not charged in the case.

Prosecutors said Andrew in 2019 — more than two years after severing ties with Democracy Prep — looted a series of escrow accounts he had previously set up for individual schools within Democracy Prep’s network, and then used their funds to open a business account in the name of one of the schools at a bank...

Andrew’s criminal defense attorney, Michael Yaeger, told CNBC that Andrew “will be entering a plea of not guilty” in the case. He declined to comment further.

Arne Duncan, who as then-President Barack Obama’s Education secretary supervised Andrew, declined to comment on the criminal case.

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