Akash Maharaj, who was kicked out of the University last summer for forging his application to Yale College, has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $46,000 in scholarships. He will be sentenced Sept. 5.
The sentencing in New Haven Superior Court next Friday will close the final chapter in the startling years-long saga of the man who duped the Ivy League. Maharaj attended Yale for a full academic year before his fraudulent application was discovered — first by his boyfriend.
The guilty plea was entered in such a way that he does not admit wrongdoing but concedes that the state has enough evidence for a conviction. Such pleas are commonly used in plea bargains.
The severity of Maharaj’s sentence will likely depend on the extent to which Yale receives restitution, said State’s Attorney Michael Dearington, the prosecutor in the case.
Yale’s Office of General Counsel told the court the University wants full restitution for the $31,750 Maharaj received in Yale financial aid.
The deal came just two days after Maharaj skipped another court date — what was supposed to be a hearing to apply for a form of probation that could have eventually wiped his criminal record.
But Maharaj, 27, did not show. His attorney, Glenn Conway, had told Maharaj he had to appear in court unless he was in a hospital. So, in Judge Richard Damiani’s words, Maharaj “conveniently” checked into one.
Visibly unsympathetic, Damiani ordered Maharaj rearrested, forfeited the previous bond of $20,000 and ordered a new one of $150,000.
When Maharaj appeared the following Friday and pleaded guilty to larceny, Damiani vacated the arrest warrant and scheduled sentencing for Sept. 5. Maharaj, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, also received a deportation warning.
Conway, who has not responded to calls to his office or cell phone, began making arrangements for $10,000 to be placed in a restitution fund, Damiani said. Maharaj also claimed to have an uncle who could spot him the money.
Larceny is the most serious charge Maharaj faces, and Dearington said the guilty plea makes it unlikely that the state will pursue the other charges of forgery and criminal violation of a restraining order.
“You assume if he pleads guilty to larceny, that’s the end of it,” Dearington said in a phone interview.
The likely outcome of a guilty plea to a serious crime like larceny is some combination of jail time and probation, Executive Assistant Chief State’s Attorney Judith Rossi said. How much of each will depend on the extent of the restitution.
Maharaj, who has not answered calls on his cell phone, was first arrested last September for larceny and forgery. He originally pleaded not guilty.
The charge of criminal violation of a restraining order stems from Maharaj’s bitter break-up with his ex-boyfriend, also a former member of the Morse College class of 2008, who tipped off the Yale College Dean’s Office about discrepancies in Maharaj’s file.
Maharaj had already been enrolled for two terms when the Dean’s Office rescinded his admission last June after an internal investigation concluded that his transcript and letter of recommendation were not valid. His grades and matriculation dates did not match records at Columbia, where he had formerly been enrolled, and he had omitted mention of his previous attendance at New York University and St. John’s University.
Yale officials said admissions policies and procedures are not undergoing any review in response to Maharaj’s alleged fraud. They said they believe forgeries are rare but there is no way to know how often they are attempted.