Peter Brand, the former fencing coach at Harvard, and Jie Zhao, a Maryland businessman, were arrested Monday morning and charged with conspiracy.
According to ABC News, this case is separate from the so-called "Varsity Blues" investigation but part of what federal prosecutors in Boston called their "long-standing effort to expose and deter corruption in college admissions."
Brand allegedly conspired with Zhao, the chief executive of a telecommunications company, to facilitate the admission of Zhao's two sons to Harvard by recruiting them to join the men's fencing team in exchange for money. Zhao was charged with circumventing the usual admissions process by paying Brand more than $1.5 million in bribes to secure his sons' admission to Harvard.
"Millions of teenagers strive for college admission every year. We will do our part to make that playing field as level as we possibly can," U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said.
In February 2013, as part of the alleged scheme, Zhao made a purported donation of $1 million to a fencing charity operated by a co-conspirator.
Zhao's eldest son was admitted to Harvard as a fencing recruit in December 2013 and matriculated in the fall of 2014. Shortly thereafter, the charity passed $100,000 on to the Peter Brand Foundation, a charitable entity established by Brand and his spouse. Thereafter, Zhao began making payments to, or for the benefit of, Brand.
Zhao allegedly paid for Brand's car, made college tuition payments for Brand's son, paid the mortgage on Brand's Needham residence, and later purchased the residence for well above its market value, thus allowing Brand to purchase a more expensive residence in Cambridge that Zhao then paid to renovate.
Zhao's younger son matriculated to Harvard in 2017. The complaint alleges that Brand did not disclose the payments to Harvard when recruiting Zhao's sons.