Harvard Faker Adam Wheeler Pleads Guilty to 20 Counts

Page 3 of 3

Verner argued that the latter clause was another reason to impose a 10-year probation period.

"I don’t think that three or four years is enough time for memory to pass," he said. "I would hate to see, four years from now, Adam Wheeler being able to write a book about this and to gain a profit."


Wheeler arrived at Harvard in 2007 as a sophomore transfer student in Kirkland House. In his application, he claimed to have graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover and to have received perfect grades as a freshman at MIT. In fact, he attended a public high school in Delaware and spent two years at Bowdoin College before being suspended for academic dishonesty.

While at Harvard, Wheeler continued his chain of lies. He built a resume stating that he had written two books on his own and co-authored another four with a Harvard English professor, delivered lectures on Armenian studies, and garnered perfect grades at Harvard. In fact, many of the accolades he listed were unfounded, and according to prosecutors, he received As, Bs, and one D in his Harvard studies.

During his senior year at Harvard, Wheeler applied for the Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships. According to Verner, he submitted "numerous glowing recommendations from Harvard College professors," along with his inflated resume and a written statement.

"He was an exceptionally strong candidate who, upon completing the final interview, would likely have received Harvard’s endorsement for one or both scholarships," Verner said.

But English professor W. James Simpson, a member of the judging committee, noticed similarities between Wheeler’s work and that of his colleague Stephen J. Greenblatt. This prompted an investigation into Wheeler’s academic history by Kirkland House Resident Dean David A. Smith, Secretary of the Administrative Board John "Jay" L. Ellison, and eventually the Harvard University Police Department and the Middlesex District Attorney’s PACT Unit.

Wheeler was summoned to a disciplinary hearing at Harvard in fall 2009 and opted to leave the College rather than attend the hearing.

Outside the courthouse today, Sussman said, "He is shamed and sorry that he hurt the people who supported him: his professors and his friends."

—Staff writer Xi Yu can be reached at

—Staff writer Julie M. Zauzmer can be reached at