Peter Brand, 67, of Cambridge, and Jie "Jack" Zhao, 61, of Potomac, MD, were arrested by federal agents today on a charge of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery over bribes Zhao allegedly paid Brand and charities he controlled to get Zhao's sons accepted to Harvard.
The bribes included Zhao buying Brand's Needham house - which he later sold for a loss - making his car payments and paying for Brand's own son's tuition.
Unlike in that other, wider college-acceptance case, the one involving Felicity Huffman, the two teens actually were proficient in the sport for which they were recruited. The older brother even served as captain of the Harvard fencing team.
According to an affidavit by an IRS agent on the case, Brand turned to bribery when he and his wife were running into financial difficulties - to the point that she sent him e-mail telling him to stop using his debit card after he used it to buy some stuff at Sudbury Farms when their account was down to just $100.
Zhao allegedly paid a total of $1.5 million in bribes to get his sons into Harvard, although the affidavit says Brand never got about $900,000 of that amount. Zhao paid $1 million to a fencing foundation with the understanding that the money would then be transferred to Brand, but the head of that foundation only funneled roughly $100,000 to a charity set up by Brand, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit does not name that man, but instead identifies him as "Co-conspirator 1" - and says he has cooperated with investigators under a deal in which anything he told them cannot be used against him. Most of Zhao's original contribution to the fencing foundation remains in an escrow account, the affidavit state.
Brand was Harvard fencing coach from 1999 until 2019, when the Globe wrote about his relationship with Zhao and Harvard fired him.
Complete affidavit (2.3M PDF).