Federal authorities are now charging a CEO in Maryland after discovering a conspiracy that he allegedly paid not less than $1.5 million to a former coach of fencing to get his two sons into Harvard University.
The United States Attorney's Office in the District of Massachusetts stated that both 67-year-old Pete Brand, a former fencing coach and a resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and 61-year-old Jie "Jack" Zhao of Potomac, Md, was charged with conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery.
According to The New York Post, the prosecutor said that Zhao, the CEO of a Telecommunications company iTalk Global Communications, allegedly conspired with Brand to get his sons accepted into the college.
Brand, who used to coach both the men's and women's fencing teams, allegedly recruited Zhao's sons in joining the men's team in exchange for money.
Based on the statement of the officials, Brand shared to a co-conspirator sometime in May 2012 that Zhao does not need to take him anywhere and even his sons do not have to be great fencers as all he needs is just a good incentive for them to be recruited, CBS Baltimore reported.
The 87-year-old former coach also added that the co-conspirator could tell Zhao what he said.
Zhao allegedly donated $1 million to a fencing charity run by a co-conspirator in February of 2013. In December of the same year, his older son was admitted to Harvard and started during the fall of 2014.
The mentioned charity then gave $100,00 directly to the Peter Brand Foundation, an organization launched by Brand and his partner.
The prosecutor shared that Zhao then made payments to or for the benefit of Brand.
The prosecutor also added that the Maryland executive did not only allegedly pay the car of Brand but also made college tuition payments for the son of Brand while paying the mortgage on his home and purchasing a residence for more than its market value.
After the transaction, Brand then bought a residence in Cambridge wherein Zhao's money was used for the renovation, The Hill reported.
The 67-year-old Cambridge resident has served as a fencing coach since 1999 until last year after the college fired him due to the investigation into his house sale.
The younger son of Zhao entered Harvard in 2017.
The prosecutors also claimed that Brand did not mention any information regarding the said payments when recruiting both the executive sons.
According to the release, both men could face up to five years of imprisonment, with three years of supervised release plus a fine of $250,000 or can be twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater.
Andrew Lelling, a U.S. Attorney, shared that the case is only a part of their long-standing effort in exposing and deterring corruption in college admissions.
He also mentioned in the release that millions of teenagers strive for college admission every year, and they will do their part in making sure that the playing field will be as level as much as possible.