By Nate Raymond
BOSTON (Reuters) – A former Harvard University fencing coach and the chief executive of a telecommunications company were arrested on Monday on charges that they engaged in a bribery scheme aimed at securing the admission of the businessman’s two sons to the Ivy League school.
Federal prosecutors in Boston said that Jie “Jack” Zhao paid more than $1.5 million in bribes so that Peter Brand, the former coach, would help his sons get into Harvard by recruiting them to the men’s fencing team.
The charges followed an investigative report by the Boston Globe last year into how Brand sold his home to Zhao for over its assessed market value. Harvard in July 2019 fired the longtime coach following the report.
The Globe’s report came a month after federal prosecutors in March 2019 unveiled the first charges in the U.S. college admissions scandal, in which wealthy parents engaged in bribery and cheating schemes to secure spots for their children at selective universities.
That investigation has led to charges against 57 people, including celebrities and corporate executives. U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling called the latest case “part of our long-standing effort to expose and deter corruption in college admissions.”
Lawyers for Brand and Zhao, who co-founded iTalk Global Communications Inc, did not respond to requests for comment.
Prosecutors said that in 2013, Zhao made a $1 million donation to a fencing charity operated by an unnamed co-conspirator that, in turn, contributed $100,000 to a foundation established by Brand and his wife.
Zhao also paid for Brand’s car, made college tuition payments for his son, paid the mortgage on his home and later bought the residence from the coach for above its market value, prosecutors said.
That purchase allowed Brand to buy a more expensive home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which Zhao paid to renovate, they said.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)