Adam Wheeler: Accused fake Harvard student
Adam Wheeler's plan to fake his way into and through Harvard University worked for years, prosecutors allege, until he tried to get a university endorsement for a Rhodes Scholarship his senior year.
That's when a professor noticed Wheeler's writings were nearly identical to those of another professor. The professor dug through Wheeler's application packet for the Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships and found fabricated recommendations from Harvard professors, a falsified transcript showing perfect grades and a much-too-impressive resume listing books co-authored, lectures given and courses taught, The Harvard Crimson reported.
The professor alerted school officials, who began an investigation into Wheeler's student file. Prosecutors allege Wheeler, now 23, also lied when he applied to Harvard in 2007, claiming to be a transfer student from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a perfect academic record from Phillips Academy in Andover, the Associated Press reported.
Wheeler was arrested on Monday and indicted on 20 offenses, including larceny, identity fraud and pretending to hold a degree. Harvard estimates Wheeler duped them out of $45,000 in financial aid, grants and scholarships. He is scheduled to appear in Middlesex Superior Court Tuesday.
In a Boston Globe story that's rich in details from court documents an anonymous Harvard professor likened the case to the movie "The Talented Mr. Ripley.''
Here's the time line prosecutors and the media have pieced together so far:
Wheeler graduates from Caesar Rodney High School in Kent County, Delaware, according to the Boston Globe.
2005 - 2007
Wheeler attends Bowdoin College in Maine, but is suspended for academic dishonesty.
Wheeler applies to transfer to Harvard. The Boston Globe reports these details from Wheeler's application:
* He claims to have attended MIT and Phillips (he was never enrolled in either). His fake MIT transcript shows perfect grades during his year there.
* He submits letters of recommendation from four MIT professors and a Andover college counselor. The letters are on the proper letterhead.
* Official documents from The College Board indicate he had received a perfect SAT score of 1600 in March 2005. A subpoena later revealed that Wheeler took the SAT twice in 2004 and scored 1160 and 1220.
Wheeler does a mandatory admissions interview with a Harvard alumnus on the Bowdoin campus, while claiming to be a MIT freshman. The Boston Globe reports Wheeler told the interviewer he moved to Bowdoin mid-semester to work as a professor's assistant, according to court documents.
Wheeler transfers to Harvard to study English and becomes a member of the Class of 2010. He joins the Kirkland House, according to the Crimson.
During his junior year, Wheeler receives a Hoopes Prize for an English project, the Crimson reports.
Wheeler submits his Rhodes and Fulbright applications to the university, launching the university's investigation. The Crimson reports that Wheeler was invited to present his case at a disciplinary hearing, but decides not to attend and to await a decision at his home in Delaware.
Wheeler is dismissed from Harvard University, the Boston Globe reports.
Wheeler submits transfer applications to Yale and Brown, according to the AP. He claims to have been employed by McLean Hospital, a psychiatric facility affiliated with Harvard (authorities say he never was) and provides recommendations from a hospital employee and a Harvard dean (authorities say both are fake).
Wheeler is arrested and charged.
May 18, 2010; 9:06 AM ET
Categories: Admissions | Tags: Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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