WOBURN, Mass. (AP) -- A Delaware man has been charged with faking his way into Harvard and duping the Ivy League school out of $45,000 in financial aid, grants and scholarships.
Adam Wheeler, 23, of Milton, Del., was admitted to Harvard and became a student in 2007 after he falsely claimed he had earned a perfect academic record at Phillips Academy in Andover and had studied for a year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, prosecutors said Monday.
Ultimately, authorities said, Wheeler's attempts to be an overachiever were his undoing: Harvard started to look into Wheeler's background after he sought the school's endorsement for Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships. A professor reviewing his application noticed similarities between Wheeler's writing and that of a colleague, prosecutors said.
Wheeler was indicted on 20 offenses, including larceny, identity fraud and pretending to hold a degree. He was arrested Monday by Massachusetts authorities and scheduled for arraignment Tuesday in Middlesex Superior Court.
Wheeler, who was studying English, was trying to transfer to Yale and Brown when he got caught in the "web of lies and deceit," Middlesex County District Attorney Gerry Leone said.
"This defendant's actions cheated those who competed honestly and fairly for admissions and for the scholarships that this defendant fraudulently obtained," Leone said.
A number listed to Adam Wheeler in Milton, Del., had been disconnected. Leone's office did not know whether he had a lawyer.
In January, authorities say, Wheeler submitted transfer applications to Yale and Brown. In his applications, Wheeler said he was employed by McLean Hospital, a psychiatric facility affiliated with Harvard, even though he was not, Leone said. His transfer application included faked recommendations from an employee at the hospital and from his former Harvard dean, Leone said.
Harvard released a statement saying it could not discuss individual cases because of federal privacy laws and referred all questions to the Middlesex District Attorney's office.
Before attending Harvard, Wheeler was a student at Bowdoin College in Maine from 2005-07, but was suspended for academic dishonesty, authorities said.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
For breaking news alerts, text KMOVNEWS to 21321
Have you seen the forecast for tomorrow?
Get the latest St. Louis weather forecast