The case was not a part of the Varsity Blues investigation, nevertheless it was tried by a number of the identical prosecutors and had strikingly related particulars. It was prompted by a Boston Globe investigation in 2019 that discovered that Mr. Zhao, chief govt of telecommunications firm iTalk World Communications, had purchased Mr. Model’s home at an inflated value. After the Globe report, Harvard fired the coach.
Mr. Weinreb, Mr. Zhao’s lawyer, stated in an interview that Mr. Zhao’s sons have been extremely certified for admission — each academically and as fencers. And he stated that Mr. Zhao was merely a beneficiant man and a delicate contact.
In his closing argument, Mr. Weinreb leaned in on the fund-raising.
“The household not solely paid full tuition for the 2 boys all eight years, additionally they donated greater than $300,000 to the college — and that features $250,000 that they used to start out a belief that will likely be price $1 million to Harvard when it matures,” he advised the jury.
As quickly because the Zhaos made the primary $250,000 donation, Mr. Weinreb stated, “Harvard stored coming again and again for extra, as a result of the Zhaos are precisely the type of household that Harvard needs within the fold.”
Within the Zhaos, he stated, Harvard received “nice children, nice college students, nice fencers and an incredible household that has generously supported the faculty in its fencing program. The place is the crime in that?”
Rachael Dane, a spokeswoman for Harvard, stated that the college was not implicated in Varsity Blues, nor a celebration to the fencing case, and would don’t have any remark. Mr. Weinreb, she added, “isn’t employed by Harvard College and has no information of our admissions course of or preferences.”
Kevin G. Andrade contributed reporting. Alain Delaquérière contributed analysis.