“If it weren’t for his parents, Mr. Wheeler’s pathological behavior wouldn’t have stopped,” Verner said.
Wheeler's complex web of lies began to unravel when, as a senior at Harvard in September 2009, he submitted a resume, a Harvard transcript, and an essay to apply for the Rhodes and Fulbright Scholarships. During the application review process, English Professor W. James Simpson suspected that Wheeler had plagiarized the work of Professor Stephen Greenblatt, Verner said.
Upon being invited by Smith to defend himself at a disciplinary hearing convened by University officials, the defendant told Smith that he was going to leave Harvard instead, according to Verner.
During the investigation, members of the faculty discovered that the student had forged two letters of recommendation submitted in his application packet for the Rhodes. His fake transcript reflected 36 A’s and one A minus over three years, but further investigation revealed that Wheeler had in reality received a D, a few B’s, and a few A’s in his time at Harvard, according to Verner.
Wheeler’s prompt departure moved investigators to examine his admissions application as a transfer student to Harvard. Wheeler had claimed to be a graduate of Phillips Academy in Andover and a freshman transfer student from MIT, producing transcripts from both institutions—neither of which he had attended, according to Verner.
For his transfer application to Harvard College, Wheeler submitted five letters of recommendation—four of which Wheeler allegedly said were from MIT professors. But the four authors named were actually Bowdoin professors, who all stated that they had not written the recommendations, according to Verner.
Authorities found that Wheeler was actually a sophomore at Bowdoin College who had been suspended from the school for plagiarizing various essays in one of his classes, according to Verner. The college allowed Wheeler to finish his spring semester of 2007, but instead of accepting a one-semester suspension, he applied as a transfer student to Harvard.
In addition, Wheeler's application to Harvard allegedly included a document from the College Board stating that he had earned a perfect score of 1600 on his SATs, when, in fact, he received scores of 1160 and 1220 when he took the test in March and November of 2004.
Wheeler was a member of the Class of 2010 who transferred to Harvard at the beginning of his sophomore year and became a resident of Kirkland House. An English concentrator, he received a Hoopes Prize in the spring of 2009 for a project that he had completed during his junior year.
Wheeler's plagiarized Hoopes-winning project, entitled "The Mapping of an Ideological Demesne: Space, Place, and Text From More to Marvell," was nominated by Suparna Roychoudhury, a teaching fellow in the English department. The published copy of Wheeler's work has been removed from Lamont, according to Harvard University Archives.
Roychoudhury could not be reached for comment.
The defendant did not receive a Harvard degree, according to Jeff Neal, spokesperson for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
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