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Imposter Withdraws From Extension School

By Imtiyaz H. Delawala and Imtiyaz H. Delawala, Contributing Writers

Edward F. Meinert Jr., the Harvard Extension School student who had been posing as a Harvard undergraduate earlier this month, withdrew from the Extension School on Friday, according to University officials.

Christopher S. Queen, dean of students at the Extension School, said that he contacted Meinert by e-mail, asking him to respond to the allegations of misrepresentation made last week.

Meinert replied, saying that he was "ashamed of his behavior" and that he would be withdrawing from the Extension School, according to Queen.

The Extension School registrar's office confirmed Friday that Meinert had withdrawn from all classes that he was enrolled in, formally ending his status as an Extension School student.

The Adminstrative Board of the Extension School met on Friday to discuss Meinert's case. Since the Extension Schoool has an open-enrollment policy, the board must decide whether or not Meinert should be indefinitely suspended from the Extension School or required to petition to re-enroll.

Queen did not release any information about the outcome of the Ad Board proceeding because of confidentiality concerns.

Since Meinert volunatrily withdrew from the Extension School, Harvard University does not plan to take any further action against him.

"It's like he didn't exist," said Sally A. Baker, assistant director of news and public affairs.

Meinert has a history of deception going back to his years as an undergraduate student at George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, D.C. According to court documents, Meinert pled guilty to two felony counts of theft and fraud in October relating to money he illegally obtained from the United States Senate Federal Credit Union.

He had also been involved in other financial schemes, such as using the identity of friends to obtain illegal loans. Meinert could receive up to 10 years in Federal prison at his sentencing on December 13.

Meinert's true identity was revealed last week when GWU's student newspaper, The Hatchet, reported that Meinert had pled guilty to the felony charges.

Meinert responded to The Hatchet in an e-mail, saying, "I can tell you that I am very sorry for these actions and understand that they demonstrated poor judgement and character. I have spent much time contemplating these events and can tell you that I have made every effort since then not to repeat and learn from these mistakes."

Meinert used his Harvard e-mail account to contact The Hatchet, allowing them to discover that he was currently at Harvard, registered as an Extension School student. All Extension School students receive e-mail accounts on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences server, fas.harvard.edu.

Meinert had also used other Harvard computer services, creating a personal Web page that was accessible through the Harvard University Web site. The page, which was listed under the Class of 2002 directory, is currently inaccessible and was most likely disabled by Meinert, according to user support specialist Kenneth Troop.

According to University officials, this is the first case of its kind in which someone has posed as an undergraduate student through enrollment in the Extension School.

There have been a handful of cases in which students have misrepresented their identities in their applications to Harvard University.

"People have been admitted under false pretenses, but have then been asked to leave the College," Baker said. "It is one of the few things for which a student can be expelled."

Meinert, who is living in Somerville with a friend until his trial date, was unavailable for comment all weekend.

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