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Who is Maryland Businessman Jie Zhao? Everything You Need To Know

Who is Jie Zhao? Where is he from?

Jie Zhao, also known as “Jack”, is a businessman from Potomac, Maryland, who is the s the CEO of telecom company iTalk Global Communications. He was arrested Monday and charged with conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery for the alleged agreement.

He was scheduled to appear Monday in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland.

How old is Jie Zhao?

Jie Zhao is 61 years old as of 2020.

Jie Zhao: What is the story?

Jie Zhao, a Maryland businessman, paid Harvard University’s former fencing coach at least $1.5 million in bribes, including payments for a car and a house in the suburbs, to get his sons admitted to the Ivy League school.

Zhao and Peter Brand were arrested Monday and charged with conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery for the alleged agreement, the US Attorney’s Office in the District of Massachusetts said.

Attorney Douglas Brooks, who represents Brand, told CNN his client “did nothing wrong.” When Brand was fired in 2019, Brooks also said Brand had done nothing wrong.

The arrests are just the latest salvo in the sprawling college admissions scam, first revealed in March 2019.

“This case is part of our long-standing effort to expose and deter corruption in college admissions,” said US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. An attorney for Zhao denied the charges in an email on Monday.

What Jie Zhao attorney says

“Jack Zhao’s children were academic stars in high school and internationally competitive fencers who obtained admission to Harvard on their own merit,” attorney Bill Weinreb said in a statement.

“Both of them fenced for Harvard at the Division One level throughout their college careers. Mr. Zhao adamantly denies these charges and will vigorously contest them in court.”

What we know so far

The complaint alleges Zhao made a series of payments totaling $1.5 million to Brand in exchange for the coach recruiting Zhao’s two sons to the fencing team, thereby facilitating their acceptance to the prestigious university.

“Jack doesn’t need to take me anywhere and his boys don’t have to be great fencers,” Brand allegedly told a co-conspirator in May 2012, according to the complaint. “All I need is a good incentive to recruit them[.] You can tell him that[.]”

Both of Zhao’s sons were recruited to Harvard because they fenced

In February 2013, Zhao made a purported donation of $1 million to a fencing charity operated by a co-conspirator, prosecutors say. Zhao’s older son was admitted to Harvard as a fencing recruit in December 2013 and matriculated to the university in the fall of 2014 and

Shortly afterward, the conspirator’s fencing charity paid $100,000 to Brand’s charitable foundation.

The older son graduated in 2018, according to The Boston Globe.

As Brand recruited Zhao’s younger son, the businessman made a series of payments to Brand or for his personal benefit, prosecutors say. Zhao allegedly paid for Brand’s car, made college tuition payments for Brand’s son, paid the mortgage on Brand’s house in Needham, Massachusetts, and then bought the house for well above market value, prosecutors say.

The payments allowed Brand to buy a more expensive residence in nearby Cambridge that Zhao then paid to renovate, the complaint states. Zhao’s younger son began attending Harvard in 2017, and the complaint alleges Brand did not tell the university about the payments when recruiting the sons.

The Needham house payment drew particular attention from Harvard and federal investigators. Brand sold the home to Zhao for $989,500, according to the deed, almost twice what a tax document said it was worth. Zhao then sold the Needham property about 17 months later at a loss of over $300,000.

Following the sale of his Needham home, Brand purchased a condominium in Cambridge. Documents obtained by CNN show the Cambridge property was originally listed for $989,000 — just $500 less than what Zhao paid the Needham home. Brand bought the Cambridge condo for about $300,000 over the asking price.

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