X-Fencing Coach, Telecom CEO Faces $ 1.5 Million Bribe Plan to Bring Children to Harvard

Federal officials said a former top fencing coach and a telecom executive at Harvard University were arrested on Monday in an alleged bribery scheme.

Peter Brand, 67, and Ji, “Jack”, Zhao, 61, face charges of conspiracy to bribe federal programs, the US Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts said.

The entry is secured for two of the children of Brand Zhao for allegedly fencing in exchange for $ 1.5 million at Harvard, the office said in a statement.

More than a year after it was first reported by the Boston Globe, it was alleged that Zhao purchased the brand’s home in Needham, southwest of Boston, worth more than about $ 1 million, or $ 440,000. .

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Approximately five months after the sale, on September 29, 2016, Zhao’s younger son received a letter from Harvard stating that he was recruited as a fence recruiter, according to a criminal complaint filed in US district court in Massachusetts. Is likely to be accepted.

The sale prompted an inspection from a local appraiser, who wrote in his notes that it “made no sense,” according to the documents.

In 2015, Zhao, the CEO of a telecom company based in Maryland, allegedly made another series of payments to the brand, covering school loans and their tuition for their children at Penn State University. Documents say he paid the brand’s water, sewer and mortgage bills and loaned him a $ 34,563 car.

The payments came in 2013 after Zhao’s older son was also admitted to Harvard. According to the documents, Zhao contributed $ 1 million to a fence charity, which then paid $ 100,000 for a foundation that the brand and his wife had recently established.

Documents say the scheme started after the brand and his wife were struggling to pay the bills.

Harvard fired the brand in 2019 following the Globe’s domestic sales report. The school’s athletic director said he violated the university’s conflict of interest interests.

In a statement on Monday, the brand’s lawyer described Zhao’s children as “academic and fencing stars” and said the former coach had done nothing wrong in the admissions process.

Zhao’s lawyer Bill Weinreb said Zhao “strongly denies the allegations and will strictly present them in court.”

Neither has entered any argument.

Federal prosecutors in Massachusetts have filed charges after more than a year of announcing the allegations in an expansive scheme – an investigation showed Operation Varsity Blues – that targeted dozens of wealthy parents, which benefits Counselor, Rick Singer, receives admission for his children in elite universities through a benefit college. Actors Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman were among those caught in the scandal.

The charges against Zhao and Brand are different from Operation Varsity Blues.

US Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lilling called the allegations, announced Monday, “part of our long-standing effort to uncover and destroy corruption in college admissions.”

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