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Case Number: 1:22-cr-00073-DLF
Judge: Dabney L. Friedrich
Court: United States District Court for the District of District of Columbia (Washington County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office
Description: Washington, DC: Criminal law lawyer represented defendant charged with wire fraud.
Bridget Coates, 49, of Falls Church, Va., was the principal of St. Thomas More Catholic School in Southeast Washington at the time her criminal activity began, in 2012, until she resigned in 2018. She pleaded guilty on April 4, 2022, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to a charge of wire fraud. She was sentenced by the Honorable Dabney L. Friedrich. Following her prison term, Coates must complete three years of supervised release. She also must pay $175,000 in restitution to the Archdiocese of Washington and an identical amount in a forfeiture money judgment.
Defendant, former school principal, was accused of stealing at least $175,000 from an association that raises funds from parent contributions and fundraisers to provide school-related services and activities to students. She used the money for personal purposes, including to qualify for a home mortgage loan.
According to court documents, from June 2012 through December 2017, Coates devised a scheme to steal from the school’s Home School Association, an organization affiliated with the school that supported student services and activities. As the school principal, Coates had access to the Home School Association’s checks and could use her discretion to pay expenditures for only school-related purposes. Coates, however, betrayed the trust and authority placed in her and engaged in a pattern of purchasing personal goods and services with the funds. Over the time period, she wrote approximately 66 unauthorized checks and deposited at least $175,000 into her personal bank account. Among other things, she used the funds to purchase designer fashion from luxury brands and to help her qualify for a home-mortgage loan.
Outcome: Defendant sentenced to thirty (30) months of incarceration, thirty-six (36) months of supervised release, $175,000 restitution and $100 special assessment