- A wealthy businessman and the former Harvard fencing coach were arrested on Monday and charged with bribery.
- Jie “Jack” Zhao paid Peter Brand, a total of $1.5 million to get his two sons into Harvard as fencing recruits.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A wealthy Maryland businessman and the former Harvard fencing coach were arrested and charged with bribery on Monday for giving and accepting $1.5 million to get the businessman two sons accepted into the prestigious university, according to the US Attorney’s Office in the District of Massachusetts.
According to federal prosecutors, in the span of five years, Jie “Jack” Zhao, the CEO of telecom company iTalk Global Communications, donated $1 million to a fencing charity “operated by a co-conspirator.”
His oldest son was accepted into the university in December 2013 as a fencing recruit.
“Jack Zhao’s children were academic stars in high school and internationally competitive fencers who obtained admission to Harvard on their own merit. Both of them fenced for Harvard at the Division One level throughout their college careers. Mr. Zhao adamantly denies these charges and will vigorously contest them in court,” William Weinreb, Zhao’s lawyer told The Washington Post.
Zhao’s younger son matriculated to Harvard in 2017, also as a fencing recruit. In the time since his initial donation, Zhao also paid for Brand’s car, made college tuition payments for Brand’s son, paid the mortgage on Brand’s home in the suburb of Boston, and would later buy it above its market value. That allowed Brand to buy a more expensive home in Cambridge, which Zhao also paid to renovate, the US Attorney’s Office alleges.
Brand was fired in 2019, following a Boston Globe investigation into the sale of his home. The Globe found that Zhao bought Brand’s home which was worth $549,300, for close to $1 million and then sold it more than a year later for a loss of more than $300,000.
The former fencing coach never disclosed to the university that he accepted money prior to recruiting Zhao’s two sons, federal prosecutors allege.
In August, Lori Loughlin was sentenced to two months in prison for bribing officials at the University of Southern California to admit her two daughters.
Harvard did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.