Former principal of DC Catholic school pleads guilty to embezzling $175,000

The former principal of St. Thomas More Academy, in Southeast D.C., pleaded guilty Monday to a charge of wire fraud.

In District Court, Bridget Coates, 48, of Falls Church, Virginia, admitted to stealing at least $175,000 from the school’s Home School Association between 2012 and 2017. She resigned from the school in 2018.

Coates will be sentenced in June. She faces up to 20 years in prison; under the court’s sentencing guidelines, she’s likely to be sentenced to serve between 27 and 33 months with a potential fine of $100,000, the Department of Justice said in a news release.

She’s agreed to pay $175,000 in restitution and the same amount in a forfeiture money judgment.

Prosecutors said Coates wrote about 66 unauthorized checks to buy items and services for herself, and deposited at least $175,000 into her personal bank account to help her qualify for a home-mortgage loan, according to the release.

The school’s Home School Association provides school-related services and activities to students from a pool of money raised through parent contributions and fundraisers.

In a statement, the school said: “We are grateful for the efforts of District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia in investigating and prosecuting this criminal conduct. We pray that Ms. Coates’ acceptance of responsibility will be a step toward healing for all those impacted by her criminal conduct.”

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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