Former Harvard student Adam Wheeler, 23, of Delaware, was indicted Monday on 20 counts of larceny, identity fraud, falsifying recommendations and pretending to hold a degree. As a senior at Harvard, Wheeler allegedly submitted falsified professor recommendations and transcripts when applying to the Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone.
Wheeler is also charged with lying in his transfer application to Harvard, providing false SAT scores and submitting fake transcripts from MIT and Phillips Academy Andover, schools he had never attended. The Harvard Crimson reported that Wheeler did not receive a degree from Harvard. In January, he allegedly applied to Yale and Brown universities, falsely stating that he was employed as an intern at a hospital, Leone said in the statement.
Harvard began investigating Wheeler when a professor alerted University officials that the student had plagiarized the work of another professor. Wheeler also reportedly won two writing prizes at Harvard, totaling $14,000, with a submission that he had plagiarized. This was not Wheeler’s first run-in with university regulations: He was suspended from Bowdoin College on a charge of academic dishonesty.
A similar fraud was uncovered at Yale in 2007, when Akash Maharaj, then a junior in Morse College, was kicked out for lying in his transfer application. He pleaded guilty in 2008 and was sentenced to five years of probation, during which he would have to pay back $31,000 for scholarships he stole — or else serve three years in jail.