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Former Obama White House advisor arrested on accusations of fraud, money laundering

3 years 1 month 2 weeks ago Wednesday, April 28 2021 Apr 28, 2021 April 28, 2021 5:32 AM April 28, 2021 in News
Source: CNN
Seth Andrew Photo: TEDx Talks / YouTube

MANHATTAN, NY - A former White House advisor and spouse to a well-known national news anchor was arrested on charges of fraud and money laundering. 

Seth Andrew, husband to CBS News anchor Lana Zak and former education advisor in the Obama White House, found himself under arrest on Tuesday, according to CNN.

This was a far cry from the seemingly promising career path the entrepreneur had forged for himself in years past.

At only 26 years of age, the Harvard-educated businessman founded Democracy Prep Public Schools in Harlem. His work resonated with many, including former President Barack Obama. By the time Andrews was about 35 years old, he had a key role with the White House. He became senior advisor and superintendent-in-residence at the U.S. Department of Education and senior advisor in the Office of Educational Technology. 

But seven years later, the now 42-year-old businessman was taken into custody on April 27 in Manhattan, New York. 

According to CNN, the charges against Andrew stem from claims that he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the very schools he'd helped to found, and that he'd attempted to launder the funds in order to get a lower interest rate on a mortgage for a Manhattan apartment.

Andrew was charged by prosecutors in the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York with wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements to a bank.

Officials say Andrew helped create the network of charter schools based in New York City in 2005, and left the network in 2013 for a job at the US Department of Education, and later became a senior adviser in the Office of Educational Technology at the White House, where he continued to be paid by the charter school network.

Prosecutors add that Andrew left his role in the White House in November 2016 and cut ties with the school network in January 2017.

CNN says this was verified with the charter school's CEO, Natasha Trivers, who issued a statement via email that said, "Seth left our network in 2013. His alleged actions are a profound betrayal of all that we stand for and to you and your children, the scholars and families that we serve. To be clear, at no time did the alleged crimes pose any risk to our students, staff or operations in any way."

Trivers added that the activity did not have "any adverse effect on our scholars or the functioning of our schools" and that the school system has since instituted financial safeguards, which lead to the discovery of the withdrawals.

According to a criminal complaint filed on April 20, prosecutors allege Andrew used his former association with the network of schools to steal $218,005 of the school's reserve money between March and August of 2019.

Officials claim Andrew used his email address affiliated with the schools to email a bank employee and convince them he was still associated with the school.

The complaint goes on to state that after allegedly stealing the school network's money, Andrew "attempted to conceal the source of the stolen funds ... and make it appear that the stolen funds belonged to a non-profit organization that Andrew founded, and currently appears to control."

Prosecutors say Andrew misrepresented that he "lawfully controlled" the money in order to obtain a discounted mortgage interest rate to buy an apartment in Manhattan.

After being taken into custody Tuesday, he was released on a personal recognizance bond, officials say.

According to CNN, Andrew's attorney says he will plead not guilty.

Andrew and his wife, Lana Zak, have three children. 


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