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Falls church woman sentenced for spending funds meant for DC school

FALLS CHURCH, VA — A Falls Church woman who served as principal of a DC school has been sentenced to prison for embezzling student funds.

Bridget Coates, 49, of Falls Church, pleaded guilty in April to a wire fraud charge for embezzling at least $175,000 in funds. Coates, the former principal of St. Thomas More Catholic School in southeast DC, was sentenced to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of probation. Coates must also pay $175,000 in restitution to the Archdiocese of Washington and the same amount in a judgment forfeiture of the money.

Court documents say the scheme took place between June 2012 and December 2017. According to prosecutors, Coates took the funds from the Home School Association, which organizes fundraisers and collected contributions from parents for services and activities. to students.

As principal, Coates could access association checks and could pay expenses for school purposes. However, prosecutors say Coates used funds to buy personal goods and services, such as designer clothes. Coates wrote approximately 66 unauthorized checks and the $175,000 in embezzled funds was deposited into his personal bank account. The funds also helped Coates qualify for a mortgage.

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