A Hawaiian getaway among a trio of former MBA classmates from Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business culminated in a fight that led to the violent death Class of 2020 MBA.
Police reported that Abhishek Gupta, a senior consultant for Deloitte Consulting, was strangled to death in Kailua-Kona vacation rental allegedly by a former classmate, Benjamin Fleming, who had graduated with him from Tepper last year.
It’s not yet clear how the argument started or what it was about. But a third Tepper MBA, Alexander Germany-Wald, 31, who also works as a Deloitte consultant and a classmate who also graduated in 2020, was initially arrested for manslaughter but later released with no charges filed. His mugshot, taken shortly after his arrest, showed bruises under and over his left eye apparently from the fight.
AN AUTOPSY DETERMINED THAT GUPTA WAS STRANGLED
The fight occurred in the early morning on Monday, March 29th, after the three friends returned to their vacation rental from a night of drinking. An argument soon followed and Fleming put Gupta into a chokehold that would cause his death, according to prosecutor Chase Murray. “From the investigation, we don’t believe the intent was to kill Mr. Gupta,” Murray told a local television news program in Pittsburgh.
At 2:08 a.m., the Hawaii Police Department received “a call of a man that was unresponsive and not breathing in the 75-5800 block of Walua Road in Kailua-Kona,” according to a news release published by the police. “Upon officers arrival, Hawai‘i Fire Department personnel were observed performing CPR on the victim. Attempts to resuscitate the man were unsuccessful. A preliminary investigation has determined that a verbal argument between the men escalated and turned physical.”
In a 911 dispatch call, an emergency responder said: “CPR is in progress. Per the reporting party who is patient’s friend, patient went unconscious and was drinking alcohol.” An autopsy showed that 30-year-old Gupta of Pittsburgh was strangled, police said.
Fleming, 37, went to Tepper in 2018 from the U.S. Army where he had served as a communications specialist. All told, he has spent nearly 19 years in the Army, including a stint as a platoon leader of 24 soldiers that he led through training and over 300 operations in Afghanistan. Fleming’s LinkedIn profile said he was working an internship with a spaceflight professional association based in St. Petersburg, Florida since June. Carnegie Mellon profiled Fleming in November as a an example of how the school helps veteran students, but the article has been removed from the school’s website.
TWO CLASSMATES WHO SHARED UNDERGRAD MAJORS AND TEPPER CLUBS
The 30-year-old Gupta, described by one classmate as kind and compassionate, was in the same entering cohort at Tepper with Fleming in 2018. They also shared a similar undergraduate backgrounds. Both were engineering majors, Fleming from Cornell University and Gupta from Michigan Technological University. At Tepper, both also were members of two student organizations on campus, the Operations Management Club and the Business and Technology Club.
While at Tepper, Gupta excelled at case competitions, winning first place in the Deloitte National Case Competition localizing and second place on a national level. His team also landed in second place in an international case competition sponsored by Target and participated in additional case competitions for Amazon and McKinsey.
Before arriving at Tepper, Gupta had worked as an international consultant in the project management office of AECOM, a civil engineering firm where he helped to develop and manage budgets for a $600 million natural gas power plant. Gupta did his summer internship with Deloitte in Chicago and was then offered a full-time position with Deloitte’s Chicago office where he started in September of 2020.
In his LinkedIn profile, Gupta wrote that in his spare time he enjoyed running, playing poker and grilling. “I am an avid traveler and have visited 21 countries and 37 U.S. states,” he added. “I also love to fly and am currently working on obtaining a private pilot license.”
REQUEST TO LOWER BAIL AND RELEASE FLEMING DENIED BY JUDGE
A judge on Wednesday declined a request by Fleming’s attorney to release him or lower his bail. Fleming has a plane ticket to return to Pennsylvania Sunday and pandemic-related restrictions on travel will make it unfeasible for him to return for court hearings, the judge said in keeping his bail at $250,000.
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