A jury has found an educational consultant guilty of defrauding a Hong Kong couple who paid him more than $2 million to help get their sons into elite New England prep schools and colleges.
A jury in federal court in Boston convicted Mark Zimny of 13 of the 14 counts: five of wire fraud, five of unlawful monetary transactions, two of false tax returns, and one of bank fraud. He was not convicted on a second count of bank fraud.
Zimny persuaded Gerald and Lily Chow, who testified against him this month, that he was a Harvard professor, even though he no longer taught there, and that he had the expertise and connections to put their sons on a track to the Ivy Leagues. Federal prosecutors sought to demonstrate that instead, Zimny spent the Chows’ money on himself.
Prosecutor Victor Wild said he argued in court Wednesday that Zimny, a former Cambridge resident, should be locked up until his sentencing in July because he is a flight risk. Instead, the judge ordered Zimny to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and forbade him from traveling except to report to court daily in California, where he lives. He was also ordered to pay $100,000 cash bail, Wild said. If convicted, Zimny could face up to nine years in prison, Wild said.
Zimny is scheduled for sentencing July 9, attorneys said, but there could be a twist in the case before then.
Toward the end of the trial, attorneys discovered that someone claiming to be a juror in the case posted anonymously on a blog that jurors had already discussed their thoughts about Zimny’s guilt. It is forbidden for juries to discuss a case before they are instructed to deliberate at the end of a trial. On the blog, an anonymous commenter wrote on April 7, “When I left the jury last week due to an illness they were 50/50.”
Zimny’s attorney, Albert S. Watkins, said Thursday that he intends to file a motion for a mistrial because of the posting.
But in a statement, Christina Dilorio-Sterling, a spokeswomen for the US Attorney’s Office, said: “Mr. Zimny was found guilty of 13 out of 14 counts involving three different kinds of fraud. We are confident of the unanimous verdicts and confident that they will stand.’’
Zimny is also the subject of a civil suit scheduled to go to trial in June.Contact Laura Krantz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @laurakrantz.