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Former Harvard Fencing Coach Cleared of Bribery Charges

Former Harvard Fencing Coach Cleared of Bribery Charges

“It may feel wrong, but it’s not a crime.”

This report seems to suggest that the coach did accept lots of money and favors, but what he did was techincally not illegal.

From Inside Higher Ed:

Not Guilty

A former coach of fencing at Harvard University was cleared Wednesday of charges that he took a bribe from the wealthy father of two students to have them admitted.

Peter Brand, the former coach, was charged under federal law with accepting bribes to get the two sons of Jie (Jack) Zhao admitted to the university. Zhao, who was charged with making the bribes, was also acquitted Wednesday.

A Justice Department statement in 2020, at the time of Brand’s and Zhao’s arrests, said, “In total, Zhao made $1.5 million in payments to Brand, or for Brand’s personal benefit, even as Brand recruited Zhao’s younger son to the Harvard fencing team. Zhao allegedly paid for Brand’s car, made college tuition payments for Brand’s [older] son, paid the mortgage on Brand’s Needham residence, and later purchased the residence for well above its market value, thus allowing Brand to purchase a more expensive residence in Cambridge that Zhao then paid to renovate. Zhao’s younger son matriculated to Harvard in 2017. The complaint alleges that Brand did not disclose the payments to Harvard when recruiting Zhao’s sons.”

Harvard fired Brand as coach for violating the university’s conflict of interest regulations. But those regulations did not necessarily make what happened illegal.

As the lawyer for Brand told the jury, “It may feel wrong, but it’s not a crime.”

The case is similar in some ways to the Varsity Blues scandal, in which dozens of students were admitted to colleges (but not Harvard) after being recruited as athletes in sports they did not play. That scandal occurred in 2019 and there have been many guilty verdicts, most by the parents admitting that they paid money for their children’s admission.


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The Gentle Grizzly | December 28, 2022 at 9:32 pm

Fencing coach. With swords, or stolen goods?

So, if I understand this correctly, the main object was to get the kids into Harvard, not to get them on the fencing team — the team recruitment was just the avenue used to get them admitted. Biden-level sleazy.

Didn’t Zhao know that if he’d given $10M directly to Harvard, his son would have been readily admitted?