More Rich People Accused of Cheating Their Kids Into College (This Time Fencing Is Involved!)

Illustration for article titled More Rich People Accused of Cheating Their Kids Into College (This Time Fencing Is Involved!)
Photo: Phillippe Desmazes/AFP (Getty Images)

Another day, another scheme to make some people rich and rich people successful. Allegedly. A former Harvard fencing coach and wealthy businessman have been arrested and charged with federal programs bribery as the result of an alleged plot in which the coach recruited the businessman’s son in exchange for money.

And not just, like, money. But money. One and a half million dollars worth of money. It’s not right, nor is it okay, but it’s at least understandable how such a sum could woo a supposed moral bastion at a prestigious university over to the dark side. (I’m just kidding: All of us intaking this information have immobile moral centers and could never even conceive of such infractions.)

The New York Times reports that Peter Brand, a former coach whom Harvard fired in 2019, is accused of accepting the exorbitant sum (to reiterate: $1.5 million) from Jie “Jack” Zhao, in exchange for recruiting Zhao’s two sons. Brand and Zhao both face up to five years in prison.


The Times printed a statement from Zhao’s lawyer, which reads:

Jack Zhao’s children were academic stars in high school and internationally competitive fencers who obtained admission to Harvard on their own merit. 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.

Though Harvard wasn’t implicated in Operation Varsity Blues, which took down Aunt Becky, the Times suggests that the scandal indirectly led to Brand and Zaho’s arrest, as universities began to run checks on their admissions and sports recruitment. It’s not Varsity Blues, per se, but it does cast a similar hue.

Some Pig. Terrific. Radiant. Humble.

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Yeah, I mean... the kids aren’t (as far as I can tell) awful (until this year). They seem competently average at Ivy League fencing and the elder was a co-captain at some point?

So it’s unclear what the alleged bribery was actually for...