Ex-Harvard student in fraud case kept applying

Adam Wheeler was applying to Stanford and Williams around the time Harvard was forcing him out, prosecutors say. Adam Wheeler was applying to Stanford and Williams around the time Harvard was forcing him out, prosecutors say.
By John R. Ellement and Martin Finucane
Globe Staff / June 10, 2010

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Adam B. Wheeler, who was expelled from Harvard University after allegedly fabricating his academic history, was admitted to Stanford University and a Williams College program by professing to be a Harvard student seeking to transfer, according to court records and officials.

Wheeler, 23, of Milton, Del., was indicted last month on charges of larceny and identity fraud, accused of weaving a web of lies to con his way into Harvard. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held in lieu of $5,000 bail.

Prosecutors say he received more than $45,000 in grants, scholarships, and financial aid based on lies.

Revelations about Wheeler’s successful applications to Stanford and a maritime program run by Williams at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut were contained in papers prosecutors filed in court yesterday.

His attorney, Steven A. Sussman of Boston, declined comment on the allegations that Wheeler was trying to find another college to attend just as Harvard was forcing him to leave.

“I’m not going to comment on anything he did or did not do, respectfully,’’ he said.

Wheeler was not brought into court yesterday for a procedural hearing, and he remains in the custody of the Middlesex County sheriff’s department. Sussman said the fact that his client is still being held on $5,000 cash bail is not part of a legal strategy.

He said Wheeler’s parents have not disowned their son. “The fact is that bail has not been posted,’’ Sussman said.

In a brief telephone conversation yesterday, Wheeler’s mother, Lee, declined to discuss her son or the charges against him. “It would be better if you contacted his attorney,’’ she said. “I am really not making any comment.’’

In statements e-mailed to the Globe, officials of both Stanford and Williams said they learned about Wheeler’s alleged fraud at Harvard from news reports and then discovered he had also fooled them.

“After seeing media reports on the investigation of Adam Wheeler, the Williams-Mystic program contacted the Middlesex district attorney’s office and passed on all the information it had regarding him,’’ said Williams spokesman James G. Kolesar.

Kolesar would not confirm that Wheeler was accepted to the program, but prosecutors said their investigation shows that he was.

Officials of both schools said Wheeler is no longer welcome to attend.

“I can confirm that Adam Wheeler had been accepted to Stanford as an undergraduate for fall 2010, but he will not be enrolling,’’ said Lisa Lapin, spokeswoman for Stanford.

No additional charges have been filed against Wheeler as a result of the discoveries about his applications to Stanford and Williams. But prosecutors said in court papers they may use the information during a trial to show a pattern of illegal behavior.

Prosecutors had said earlier this year that after Wheeler left Harvard he had also submitted transfer applications to Yale and Brown universities. Yale officials say he was not accepted. Brown officials have not commented.

John Ellement can be reached at Martin Finucane can be reached at

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