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Feds. Charge Former Harvard Fencing Coach, Parent With Bribery

The former fencing coach and Harvard College parent at the heart of an admissions scandal which embroiled Harvard Athletics in spring 2019 were arrested on Monday and charged with bribery, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office District of Massachusetts.
The former fencing coach and Harvard College parent at the heart of an admissions scandal which embroiled Harvard Athletics in spring 2019 were arrested on Monday and charged with bribery, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office District of Massachusetts. By Timothy R. O'Meara
By Ema R. Schumer, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: November 16, 2020, at 12:28 p.m.

The former fencing coach and Harvard College parent at the heart of an admissions scandal which embroiled Harvard Athletics in spring 2019 were arrested on Monday and charged with bribery, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Massachusetts.

The University dismissed the coach, Peter Brand, in July 2019, after The Boston Globe reported that he sold his home to Jie “Jack” Zhao — a Maryland resident and parent of one then-current Harvard fencer and one former Harvard fencer — for hundreds of thousands of dollars above its market value. His dismissal came after Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay launched an investigation in April.

Brand allegedly accepted roughly $1.5 million to “facilitate” the admission of Zhao’s two sons to Harvard, per the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s press release.

Brand and Zhao will both make appearances in federal court, in Boston and Greenbelt, Md., respectively.

In an emailed statement, Zhao's attorney Bill Weinreb wrote that Zhao will fight the charges in court.

"Jack Zhao’s children were academic stars in high school and internationally competitive fencers who obtained admission to Harvard on their own merit," he wrote. "Both of them fenced for Harvard at the Division One level throughout their college careers. Mr. Zhao adamantly denies these charges and will vigorously contest them in court.”

Brand's attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday morning.

—Staff writer Ema R. Schumer can be reached at ema.schumer@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @emaschumer.

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