Former Catholic school principal sentenced for embezzling $175K meant for student activities, services: feds

Falls Church, Virginia, woman who worked as principal sentenced to 30 months in wire fraud case

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A former Catholic school principal in Washington, D.C., will now spend more than two years behind bars after federal prosecutors sentenced her for stealing at least $175,000 meant for student activities and services and using the cash on items such as luxury fashion goods. 

Bridget Coates, 49, of Falls Church, Virginia, received a 30-month sentence Wednesday after pleading guilty to a wire fraud charge in April, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. 

Coates, the attorney’s office says, "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." 

"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," the office said in a statement. "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.

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Prosecutors say Bridget Coates ran the scheme to take money away from St. Thomas More Catholic School in Washington, D.C., between 2012 and 2017.

Prosecutors say Bridget Coates ran the scheme to take money away from St. Thomas More Catholic School in Washington, D.C., between 2012 and 2017. (Google Maps)

"Coates, however, betrayed the trust and authority placed in her and engaged in a pattern of purchasing personal goods and services with the funds," the statement continued. "Over the time period, she wrote approximately 66 unauthorized checks and deposited at least $175,000 into her personal bank account." 

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Prosecutors say Coates used the funds "to purchase designer fashion from luxury brands and to help her qualify for a home-mortgage loan," among other purposes. 

Coates resigned from the St. Thomas More Catholic School in 2018, prosecutors say.

Coates resigned from the St. Thomas More Catholic School in 2018, prosecutors say. (Google Maps)

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As part of her sentencing, Coates must complete three years of supervised release following her jail term and also "pay $175,000 in restitution to the Archdiocese of Washington and an identical amount in a forfeiture money judgment," the attorney’s office says. 

A person who answered the phone at St. Thomas More Catholic School on Thursday told Fox News Digital that the facility has no comment at this time on the matter.