A Caesar Rodney graduate was arraigned May 17 on 20 offenses involving larceny, identity fraud, falsifying an endorsement and pretending to hold a degree.
A Milton, Del., man was arraigned Tuesday on 20 offenses involving larceny, identity fraud, falsifying an endorsement and pretending to hold a degree.
Adam Wheeler, 23, a 2005 Caesar Rodney High School graduate, pleaded not guilty in Middlesex Superior Court on charges of larceny over $250 (four counts), identity fraud (eight counts), falsifying an endorsement or approval (seven counts) and pretending to hold a degree.
The clerk magistrate ordered Wheeler held on $5,000 cash bail with conditions he stay away from Harvard University, MIT, Brown University, Yale University, Phillips Academy in Andover, and McLean Hospital. He must also turn in his passport, check in with probation daily, and remain in Massachusetts during the pendency of the case.
His next court date will be June 9 for a pre-trial conference.
According to authorities, in September 2009, the defendant, a senior at Harvard University, submitted applications for the Harvard endorsement for both the United States Rhodes Scholarship and the Fulbright Scholarship. The defendant’s application packet consisted of numerous recommendations from Harvard College professors, his college transcript that reflected perfect grades over three years, a project statement and an application and resume listing numerous books he had co-authored, lectures he had given and courses he had taught.
During the application review process, a Harvard professor read the defendant’s submission and was troubled by the similarities between the defendant’s work and that of another professor. When the Harvard professor compared the two pieces of work, it was clear that the defendant had allegedly plagiarized nearly the entire piece. The Professor then reported the finding to University officials.
University officials began an internal investigation and confronted the defendant with the allegations, informing him of a disciplinary hearing that he was entitled to attend in order share his version of the events. The defendant notified officials that he would not be present and that he would await their decision from home.
Following the meeting, a university official began to look into the defendant’s personal file. It was discovered that the defendant had submitted a false Harvard transcript with his Rhodes and Fulbright application and it was uncovered that the defendant was not a straight A student. Having made this realization, University officials began a full review of the defendant’s academic file.
Upon review of the file, officials saw that the defendant had transferred from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and had attended Phillips Academy in Andover. In his application file, the defendant had submitted a full transcript from Phillips Andover indicting that he had graduated from the school and a transcript from MIT showing perfect grades from his first year at the school. In addition, there were also several letters of recommendations from both MIT and Phillips Andover, as well as essays and official documents from the College Board indicating that the defendant had taken the SAT exam and received a perfect score of 1600.
University officials and Harvard police soon discovered that the defendant had never attended MIT or Phillips Andover and that his SAT scores were not perfect. In addition, officials found that the defendant’s recommendations were signed by professors at Bowdoin College in Maine, where the defendant had previously attended and was suspended from due to academic dishonesty. The professors named on the recommendations all told officials they had never written a recommendation for the defendant, and some went on to say that they did not even know the defendant. Officials also learned that the recommendations the defendant submitted in his Rhodes and Fulbright applications were altered, changed and expanded upon from the letters the professors at Harvard had actually written.
Detectives also learned that while at Harvard, the defendant applied for and won two prestigious writing prizes with a submission that had been plagiarized. These two awards, the Winthrop Sargent Prize in English and the Hoopes Prize, as well as a research grant, totaled $14,000. In addition to the monies the defendant won in prizes and a research grant, the defendant was awarded financial aid from Harvard University totaling to over $31,000.
Since leaving Harvard, the defendant applied to McLean Hospital for an internship in January, stating that was taking the spring semester off from Harvard to work on two scholarly books. During a background check conducted by the hospital, it was discovered that the defendant misrepresented himself in his application and was not offered an internship. Also in January, the defendant submitted transfer applications to Yale University and Brown University. In his application to these schools, the defendant stated that he was currently employed by McLean Hospital as an intern. He also submitted false recommendations from an employee at the hospital and from his former dean at Harvard, who had informed the defendant of the plagiarism accusation.
The defendant was indicted by a Middlesex Superior Court Grand Jury on May 6. The indictment was immediately sealed while the defendant was located.
On May 10, Delaware authorities located and arrested the defendant in Delaware. On May 17, Massachusetts authorities arrested Wheeler and he was rendited back to Massachusetts.
These charges are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by the Harvard University Police Department and investigators assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s PACT Unit.