In April 2019, the following appeared this site:
This is one for the book on the human mind having no limitations on creativity when it comes to desperation. Harvard is investigating its fencing coach, Peter Brand’s, sale of his home in Needham, Massachusetts to Jie Zhao, a wealthy businessman from Maryland, for over $400,000 above the home’s appraised value of $549,300. The Needham assessor described the home as vintage 1960s in “bad shape,” and that the sale for that amount made no sense.
Ah, but the assessor did not understand that shortly after the sale took place, Mr. Zhao’s youngest son (in high school at the time) was admitted to Harvard and, for a time, was on the fencing team. Mr. Zhao, not planning on relocating from Maryland to Needham, sold the house one year later, for $665,000. So, speculating here, Mr. Zhao got his son into Harvard and was able to write off a bribe paid to a coach as a capital loss.
Harvard has indicated that it does not believe the incident was related to Operation Varsity Blue, the sting operation that has nailed coaches and parents across the fruited plain. Nah, of course not.
On Tuesday, both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported that both Mr. Brand and Mr. Zhao were indicted. The indictment alleges that Mr. Zhao paid for Mr. Brand’s car, his son’s tuition at Penn State, his sewer and water bill, and off course the extra $400,000 for the house. Mr. Zhao denies the allegations vehemently and his lawyer says that his children were academic stars in high school and “internationally competitive fencers.” However, most recruited fencers are in the top 10 of junior rankings. The Zhao boys never cracked the top 50. One son graduated in 2018 (fencing second-team All-Ivy) and the other son is a senior this year. The younger son has “fenced sparingly.” Coach Brand was fired in 2019. Mastermind Rick Singer of Operation Varsity Blue was nowhere near this one. What the means is the college admissions fraud may be wider spread than we thought.