News | Student Life

Student arrested in December drug bust hoping to transfer schools

Harrison David, SEAS ’12, who was arrested last month for selling drugs, will seek a plea bargain that does not include jail time, his attorney said Tuesday.

David is one of five students who were arrested in an on-campus police raid last month and charged with selling cocaine, marijuana, MDMA, Adderall, and LSD, according to the New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office. David is the only one accused of selling cocaine.

David’s attorney, Matthew Myers, said a jail cell would be wasted on his client. While emphasizing that the allegations against David have not yet been proven, he said that David now understands that he cannot return to dealing.

“If the prosecutors feel as though some sort of period of jail would be appropriate—I just don’t see what purpose that would serve,” Myers said. “I think Harrison David has learned his lesson more than the average person.”

Myers said David has been suspended but not expelled from Columbia, and that he is taking the situation “very seriously.” He added that David is making plans to apply to other schools, as it is likely Columbia will expel him if he is convicted.

“I don’t want to put words in his mouth. It’s certainly a huge disappointment in light of the fact that he was able to gain acceptance into one of the best schools in the country, and now it’s in jeopardy,” Myers said.

Columbia will not comment on Harrison’s status at the University in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which restricts educational institutions from releasing information about students.

Myers said that David is currently living in Florida with a former captain in the New York State Department of Correctional Services who is a family friend. Myers said this is meant to give David a disciplined environment to help him “get back on the right track.”

David said in an email to Spectator that he has been in touch with friends from home and school while in Florida.

“I’m happy here, just trying to move forward with my life, make some money and I’m probably looking to transfer schools,” David said in the email.

Myers noted that David’s father did not pay his son’s bail until two weeks after his arrest in an attempt to teach him a “hard-love lesson.”

“His father, along with counsel, thought that it may serve to deter future conduct, and that the situation was not to be treated lightly,” Myers said. “But of course the Department of Corrections is no place for a kid like Harrison David, so at some point we did the safe thing and bailed him out.”

Myers would not estimate the likelihood of David receiving a plea bargain that does not involve jail time. He said that the media attention surrounding the case—which the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office dubbed “Operation Ivy League”—puts more pressure on prosecutors to seek jail time.

“They tend to let public perception get into their wheelhouse,” Myers said. “The bargains always involve higher jail sentences when you have the press lurking around in courtrooms.”

David has been charged with a Class A2 felony for selling cocaine, a crime that generally calls for a sentence of three to eight years, Myers said. The other defendants—Coles, Adam Klein, CC ’12, Jose Stephan Perez, CC ’12, and Michael Wymbs, SEAS ’11—have been charged with less serious offenses.

The five students are next due in court on March 1.

sammy.roth@columbiaspectator.com

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Anonymous posted on

A cocaine dealer "just trying to...make some money" in Florida. That sounds like a good plot for a movie. Al Pacino could play Harrison David.

Seriously, though, I think it's strategically unwise of Harrison's defense counsel to publicly discuss his request for a no-jail sentence for Harrison in what he acknowledges is a press case, ie, a case where the public would especially notice and be offended by special treatment for an Ivy League son of a plastic surgeon, for felony charges. He's practically calling out the prosecuting ADA and challenging him/her to seek serious jail time for Harrison.

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Anonymous posted on

I'm sure the lawyer knows what he's doing - at some point, the plea has to be made public anyway, so it's not like they really have the element of surprise going for them.

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Anonymous posted on

This note makes me think: Why should a privileged person have a better fate than a less privileged one who committed the same crime? Is this fair justice? It isn't that I'd want him to go to jail, I certainly don’t, but it still makes me wonder...

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Anonymous posted on

it not necessarily the fact that hes privileged, but in cases like this jail time is often decided by how much of a menace or threat the kid is to society. he is clearly not dangerous

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Anonymous posted on

What do you mean, "...he is clearly not dangerous". He was selling addictive and developmentally harmful drugs on a college campus to teenagers. I would definitely call that a danger and a menace! All of them should be thrown in jail just like any less fortunate person who doesn't have social/political helpers would be.

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Anonymous posted on

**prior felonies have something to do with the sentencing too, which none of the 5 kids have

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Anonymous posted on

harrison david got arrested in july 2009 for marijuana

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Anonymous posted on

i read it was sealed and not a felony so that wont count for anything in court

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Anonymous posted on

Wow, some of you really seem irritated to the point of hating Harrison David because he's a white boy. Racism is alive and flourishing.

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Anonymous posted on

Harrison David's dad is in the "closet"

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Anonymous posted on

This is BS the kid was a SELLING COCAINE to kids. What part of that some folks don't see. Yes he should have gotten some jail time. And yes  facts are facts hes white and he's from a well to do family. BOTH had somthing to do with him not getting ANY jail time.   

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