Ex-Harvard Student Pleads Not Guilty to Identity Fraud, Larceny, and Other Massachusetts Criminal Charges in Alleged Fraud that Earned Him Admission, Grants, and Financial Aid

Adam B. Wheeler, a former Harvard student who has been indicted for falsifying information that allowed him to get into the university and receive thousands of dollars in financial aid and grants, has pleaded not guilty to 20 criminal counts of identify fraud, larceny, pretending to hold a degree, and falsifying an endorsement or approval. At the 23-year-old’s arraignment today, his cash bail was set at $5,000. If convicted, Wheeler could be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison for each felony count and a year for each misdemeanor.

Wheeler is accused of submitting bogus transcripts that showed him attending Phillips Academy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also allegedly falsified his perfect SAT test score of 1600 and included fake letters of recommendation with his college application.

Assistant Middlesex District Attorney John Verner says that in fact, Wheeler had actually attended a Delaware high school, earned 1100 on his SAT, and was studying a Bowdoin College before he was suspended for plagiarizing an essay. He then applied to transfer to Harvard after the Spring 2007 semester.

Prosecutors claim that Wheeler plagiarized letters of recommendation and essays and made other allegedly “untruthful” statements when applying for Fulbright and Rhodes Scholarships. They claim that he defrauded Harvard of more than $45,000, including $31,806 in financial aid, $6,000 in English prizes, and $8,000 for a research grant.

It was when he applied for the Rhodes and Fulbright Scholarships in September 2009 that a Harvard professor began to suspect that Wheeler had committed plagiarism. Wheeler then decided to leave Harvard. He is also accused of submitting fraudulent documents, including fake letters of recommendation, to Brown and Yale when he submitted transfer applications to both schools.

Wheeler’s Cambridge criminal defense lawyer says that it is important to remember that the charges against his client are “just allegations” and that Wheeler should be “presumed innocent” until proven guilty. This is the 23-year-old’s first brush with the law.

Parents stepped in after alleged Harvard scammer applied to Yale, Boston.com, May 18, 2010
Ex-Harvard Student, Adam Wheeler, Pleads Not Guilty to Charges of Fabricating Academic History, The Harvard Crmson, May 18, 2010

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