Columbia Student Klein Granted Probation in Drug-Sale Case

Adam Klein, one of five Columbia University students arrested in December 2010 and charged with selling drugs on the New York City campus, was sentenced to five years’ probation after pleading guilty in January to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Justice Michael Sonberg of state Supreme Court in Manhattan imposed the sentence today. It was recommended by prosecutors as part of a plea bargain. Klein, 21, of Closter, New Jersey, faced a term as long as 2 1/2 years if convicted of the most serious charge against him initially.

“I now realize that my behavior was unacceptable and I am sorry,” Klein said in a statement he read to the judge. He also apologized to his professors and classmates, saying he brought “unnecessary grief to the school.”

Klein, who was a neuroscience and behavior major who competed on the school’s fencing team, has since left Columbia, according to his lawyer, Alan M. Abramson. Klein now attends a City University of New York school, and works part-time and does tutoring, Abramson said.

“He’s looking forward to getting his life back on track,” Abramson said. If Klein completes his probation, this violation will be expunged from his record, Abramson said.

Klein’s case is the last to be resolved in court. Three of the students pleaded guilty. Another was allowed into a drug-treatment program.

‘Operation Ivy League’

The arrests came after a five-month investigation by the New York City police dubbed “Operation Ivy League.” Undercover narcotics 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, according to prosecutors.

Michael Wymbs, 23, of New York, and Jose Stephan Perez, 21, of Atlanta, pleaded guilty to similar charges last year in exchange for five years’ probation.

Harrison David, 21, of Wrentham, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in July to selling cocaine to an undercover officer in exchange for six months in jail and five years of probation. He started serving his sentence in August and has been released.

Drug Program

Christopher Coles, 21, of Philadelphia, was accepted into a pretrial drug-treatment program.

The students were all suspended from Columbia after their arrests. Students who violate Columbia’s drug policy may face expulsion, according to its website.

The school suspended the three fraternities whose members were arrested. Alpha Epsilon Pi, Pi Kappa Alpha and Psi Upsilon also lost control of their brownstone residences, according to the Columbia Spectator, a college newspaper. The school has since required the fraternities to implement three-year improvement plans, as well as submit annual reports that are evaluated on factors including academic success, leadership development and community service.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act bars universities from commenting on the enrollment status and disciplinary records of their students, said Robert Hornsby, a university spokesman. The university declined to comment any further.

Sonberg rejected requests from Klein, Wymbs and Perez to enter the diversion program, which was set up in 2009 as part of a reform of that state’s so-called Rockefeller drug laws. The program allows judges to divert some nonviolent offenders to treatment programs instead of incarceration.

Three suppliers, none of whom attended Columbia, pleaded guilty in the case last year.

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

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