Columbia Student Denied Pretrial Diversion in Drug Case

Adam Klein, one of five Columbia University students arrested a year ago and accused of selling drugs on campus, was denied entry into a pretrial diversion program by a judge in Manhattan today.

Judge Michael Sonberg in New York state Supreme Court denied Klein’s request to enter a diversion program set up in 2009 as part of a reform of the state’s so-called Rockefeller drug laws. The program allows judges to divert some nonviolent offenders to treatment programs instead of incarceration.

Klein, 21, of Closter, New Jersey, was one of five students arrested in December 2010 after a five-month investigation nicknamed “Operation Ivy League.” Prosecutors said undercover officers spent $11,000 buying drugs including cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy and LSD-laced candy, with most sales taking place in common areas and bedrooms of three fraternities.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” said Klein’s attorney, Alan Abramson. “We think Adam is an ideal candidate for diversion and the kind of defendant the diversion statute was created for.”

Sonberg in October also rejected diversion requests from two of Klein’s co-defendants, Jose Stephan Perez, 21, of Atlanta and Michael Wymbs, 23, of New York. Wymbs pleaded guilty to third-degree attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to five years’ probation, and Perez is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 20.

Guilty Plea

Another of the arrested students, Harrison David, 21, of Wrentham, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty on July 19 to selling cocaine to an undercover officer in exchange for six months in jail and five years of probation. He began serving his prison term on Aug. 30.

A judge approved diversion for another arrested student, Christopher Coles, 21, of Philadelphia, last month. If he completes the program successfully, the criminal case will be dropped.

Perez and Klein face sentences of as long as 2 1/2 years if convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, the most serious charge against each of them. Both turned down plea bargains in June that included five years’ probation. Klein is scheduled to return to court Jan. 10.

The case is People v. David, 00038N/2011, New York state Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan.)

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