Light & Verity

Former student charged with faking transcript

As a Yale junior in 2007, Akash Maharaj won an English department prize for an essay he wrote on The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald's tale of a man who reinvents himself. This April, the Yale Daily News discovered that Maharaj apparently had all too much personal knowledge of the topic. He had been arrested and charged last fall with forgery and larceny for falsifying information in his transfer application to Yale.

Maharaj, 26, who enrolled at Yale as a transfer student in fall 2006, allegedly forged a transcript and recommendation letter from Columbia University. He is charged with larceny for accepting roughly $47,000 in financial aid from Yale.

Maharaj's deception first came to light last June, when his ex-boyfriend (a current Yale senior) told the Yale Police that Maharaj had threatened to kill him. The boyfriend's allegations sparked an investigation of Maharaj's Yale application, and when discrepancies were found, Yale College dean Peter Salovey rescinded his admission later that month. In an attempt to clear his name, Maharaj submitted another Columbia transcript to Yale the next day. Administrators determined that the second transcript was also fake, and Maharaj was arrested in September.

The police investigation revealed that Maharaj had attended a number of colleges. He apparently spent a year each at St. John's University and New York University before enrolling at Columbia, where he took classes from 2004 to 2006.

The university has declined to comment on the matter, except for a statement from Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeff Brenzel ’75, who said that "cases of suspected fraud in the application process are rare."

If Maharaj, who has pleaded not guilty, is convicted of the charges currently pending, he could face up to 25 years in prison. His attorney has filed an application for accelerated rehabilitation, a form of probation. He is to appear in New Haven Superior Court on May 28. 

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