Former DC principal sentenced to 30 months in prison for embezzling over $175,000

A former principal was sentenced Wednesday to two and a half years in prison for stealing at least $175,000 from an organization that raises funds to help students. 

Bridget Coates, 49, of Falls Church, Virginia pleaded guilty in April to a charge of wire fraud, and was sentenced Wednesday by the Honorable Dabney L. Friedrich in U.S. District Court.

According to court docs, Coates worked as the principal of St. Thomas More Catholic School in Southeast D.C. during the time her criminal activity began in 2012 until she resigned in 2018. 

Coates devised a scheme to steal from the school’s Home School Association, an organization affiliated with the school that supports 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. 

An investigation determined that for nearly six years, she wrote approximately 66 unauthorized checks and deposited at least $175,000 into her personal bank account. She used the funds to purchase designer fashion from luxury brands and to help her qualify for a home mortgage loan.              

Following her prison term, Coates was ordered to complete three years of supervised release. She must also pay $175,000 in restitution to the Archdiocese of Washington.