Students shocked by alleged Harvard imposter
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Students who know Adam Wheeler are expressing shock that someone could fake their way into one of the nation's most prestigious schools.
“He’s in my English sophomore tutorial. He seemed nice. He was always there, on time. He said really bright things and thoughtful things,” said Joe Tobias, a former classmate.
Wheeler, 23, was arraigned Tuesday morning on 20 charges, including larceny and identity fraud. Investigators say he duped the Ivy League school out of $45,000 in financial aid, grants and scholarships. (Read more)
Tobias said while Wheeler was quiet in class, he was articulate among his peers.
Wheeler has been off campus since the fall when suspicions started brewing. He attended the school for two years.
“We thought he was a genius,” said one male student who lived in the same dorm as Wheeler.
“He was a quite a reserved guy. He kept to himself. He wasn’t an extroverted. Very consistent in his mannerism, if that makes any sense. He walked the same way. I’m sure he talked the same way,” added another student.
Most students 7NEWS talked to agreed Wheeler should be facing criminal charges. One, however, even thought that there is money to be made on this wild story.
“We were thinking we could make a movie out of this or something,” he joked.
Investigators say Wheeler's resume was also fake. (More on resume)
Wheeler's resume says he was invited to speak at the National Association of Armenian Studies and Research at Harvard.
However, the NAASR's Marc Mamigonian said Wheeler's claims are completely false.
"These three lectures were given here...but they were given by James Russell, who holds the chair of Armenian Studies at Harvard University," Mamigonian said.
Wheeler's case angers students who say they earned everything they worked for.
"I have worked really hard for my A's and B's and D's. Don't worry, Mom. Those D's are mine," said Megan Amran.
If he had not been caught, Wheeler would have received his degree from Harvard next week.
"Officials realized that MIT doesn't give letter grades, and Mr. Wheeler had reported that he got all A's his first year at MIT," said a prosecutor on Tuesday.
Prosecutors also discussed how Wheeler attempted to transfer to Yale and Brown after he got caught at Harvard.
"One of the parents made Mr. Wheeler notify Yale that his application to Yale was not true," said the prosecutor.
Wheeler's attorney Steven Sussman said the charges against his client are not as bad as they seem.
"I dispute that they're strong allegations. They are just allegations, so until we go to court and air it out I think he's presumed innocent," Sussman said.
Wheeler's parents had no comment as they left the courtroom. He is next scheduled to appear in court on June 9.
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