Former Harvard University fencing coach Peter Brand indicted after authorities said he accepted more than $ 1.5 million in bribes from a UK businessman. Maryland
The former Harvard University fencing coach was indicted this week for accusations that he accepted more than a million dollars in bribes from the head of the Maryland-based telecommunications company in exchange for helping the businessman’s sons enter the Ivy League.
Coach Peter Brand, 67, and businessman Jie “Jack” Zhao, 61, were both indicted by a grand jury in Boston on Monday with one count of conspiracy. to commit acts of corruption related to federal programs. with the $ 1.5 million program, US Attorney Andrew Lelling’s office said in a statement.
The pair were arrested on Nov. 16 for claiming that Brand made Zhao’s two sons accept Harvard by recruiting them to join the men’s fencing team in exchange for money, federal court records show.
“This case is part of our long-standing efforts to expose and deter corruption in college admissions,” Lelling said in a statement last month. “Millions of teenagers struggle to get into college every year. We will do our part to make this playing field as level as possible. “
Zhao’s eldest son attended Harvard from 2014 to 2018 and was captain of the men’s fencing team. The younger son started in 2017 and is still on the fencing team, according to records.
In May 2012, Brand, a Cambridge resident, was accused of telling an anonymous accomplice: “Jack doesn’t need to take me anywhere and his boys don’t need to be great fencers” , in reference to Zhao.
“All I need is a good incentive to recruit them,” Brand wrote. “You can tell him that.”
In another text message dated July 7, 2012, the conspirator asked Brand, “Is there room for … your favorite Chinese supporter?” “
Brand is accused of responding: “Of course as long as [Zhao comes] through financial support. His text included a blinking face, according to the records.
In February 2013, authorities said Zhao made what he claimed was a $ 1 million donation to a fencing charity founded by a co-conspirator as part of the bribery program. The businessman’s eldest son was admitted to Harvard as a fencing rookie 10 months later, according to Lelling’s office.
The charity then donated $ 100,000 to the Peter Brand Foundation, a charity created by the fencing coach and his wife. After the funds were received, Zhao began making regular payments to or for Brand’s benefit, the US attorney’s office said.
Officials said Zhao’s bribes were for various personal expenses, including Brand’s car as well as his son’s loans and school fees.
The Potomac, Md., Resident is accused of donating money to pay off the fencing coach’s mortgage on his house in Needham, court records show. Law enforcement alleged that the businessman subsequently purchased the residence well above its market value, allowing Brand to purchase a more expensive house in Cambridge which Zhao then paid for. renovate.
In total, Zhao is accused of paying over $ 1.5 million to Brand, or for the personal benefit of the Harvard coach, even as he recruited the businessman’s youngest son in the school fencing team, according to the US attorney’s office.