Former principal of DC Catholic school gets 2 1/2 years for embezzling

A former principal at a Catholic school in D.C. was sentenced to 30 months in prison for stealing at least $175,000 meant for school-related services and activities.

Bridget Coates, 49, of Virginia, pleaded guilty to a charge of wire fraud last April and was sentenced Wednesday.

She was the principal of St. Thomas More Catholic School in Southeast when she began taking money from the school’s Home School Association in 2012. Her scheme lasted through December 2017, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Columbia said. Coates resigned in 2018.

As principal, Coates had access to the association’s checks, which were supposed to pay for school-related purposes.

But prosecutors said that she “engaged in a pattern of purchasing personal good and services” with the money, including buying designers fashion and qualifying for a home mortgage loan. She also wrote 66 unauthorized checks and deposited money into her personal account.

In addition to her prison sentence, Coates has to pay $175,000 to the Archdiocese of Washington, as well an identical amount in a forfeiture money judgment.


Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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