September 26, 2023

Seth Andrew during a TEDx conversation

Source: TEDx talks | Youtube

Federal prosecutors and an attorney for former White House education advisor Seth Andrew are in initial talks over a possible removal of the criminal case accusing him of tearing down a network of charter schools he founded for $ 218,000 .

These discussions came to light just a month after Andrew was arrested on a New York City criminal complaint for wire fraud, money laundering, and misrepresentation against a financial institution.

However, one person familiar with these discussions, who had requested anonymity due to the nature of the conversations, said they were not referring to a possible plea deal, but rather giving Andrew’s new attorney time to update on the case.

Free for a $ 500,000 bond, 42-year-old Andrew is the founder of Democracy Prep Public Schools, which he left in 2013 to join then-President Barack Obama’s administration.

Prosecutors last month accused Andrew of looting a number of school escrow accounts on the Democracy Prep network in 2019.

Andrew then allegedly used most of the money to keep a minimum number of bank accounts, which in turn gave him a cheaper rate on the $ 1.776 million mortgage on the Manhattan residence he and his wife, the CBS news anchor, he owned Lana Zak, shares.

Andrew and Zak received a mortgage rate of only 2.5% or 0.5% less than they should have paid because they had more than $ 1 million on deposit with the lender.

Without the more than $ 142,000 in allegedly stolen funds that he deposited with the lender, “Andrew could only have received an interest deduction of 0.375%,” the US Attorney’s Office for the southern borough of New York found last month.

Democracy Prep said it learned of the unauthorized withdrawals and then reached out to the authorities.

Zak, who has three children with Andrew, is not accused of wrongdoing.

Thursday was the legal 30-day deadline within which Andrew will be charged in the case, either by grand jury indictment or by some other type of indictment known as informational. This is usually filed after a defendant has indicated willingness to plead guilty.

On Thursday, prosecutors asked Manhattan Federal Supreme Court judge Barbara Moses to extend the deadline on the case.

“The defense attorney and the government are discussing a possible disposition for this case and other matters,” US assistant attorney Ryan Finkel wrote in a trial.

“Therefore, the government is asking for a 30-day continuation until June 27, 2021 to continue the above discussions. The undersigned spoke personally with the defense attorney, who had expressly consented to this request.”

Moses granted the request for continuation in an order published on Friday.

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An injunction in criminal proceedings usually relates to a confession of guilt, an acquittal in the process or, less often, the dismissal of charges by prosecutors.

It is common for prosecutors and defense lawyers to discuss a possible objection agreement, but such discussions do not always end in an agreement.

And the person familiar with the discussions in Andrew’s case said the postponement of the indictment was because his attorney, Edward Kim, was recently hired to represent him on the case, rather than due to taking the case immediately resolve through a plea.

The US Attorney’s Office for the southern borough of New York declined to comment.

Kim also declined to comment.

Until his arrest, Andrew was CEO of Democracy Builders, a group that describes itself as “the social sector studio that created more than $ 1 billion in companies that are the face of education, democracy and technology change all over the world “.

Democracy Builders bought the former Marlboro College campus in Marlboro, Vermont, for more than $ 1.7 million in 2020 with the aim of building a school there called Degrees of Freedom.

The group removed Andrew as chairman of the board of directors and restricted his access to all financial accounts after learning of his arrest.

Natasha Trivers, current executive director of the Charter School network Democracy Prep, said in an email to the network’s families last month that Andrews “alleged acts are a profound betrayal of everything we stand for and of you and your children. the scholars and families who do that. ” we serve. “

Trivers added, “The network’s finances remain strong and at no point has any of Seth Andrew’s activities had a negative impact on our scholars or the functioning of our schools.”