OK, let’s all take a deep breath. Here’s the latest news on Operation Ivy League, and a run-down of what’s happened today, who’s written about it, and what’s next.
The most recent news: as of 7:20 p.m., Bwog has some important updates from the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office. Kati Cornell, the Communications Representative, just told Bwog that each of the arrested students has secured a private lawyer. Christopher Coles will be represented by Curtis Faber, Harrison David by Samuel Felman, Adam Klein by Hershel Katz, Jose Perez (aka Stephan Vincenzo) by Robert Weinstein, and Michael Wymbs by Michael Bachner. Bachner has been involved in several high-profile legal cases recently, including Caroline Giuliani’s shoplifting arrest case, former NY Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik’s federal case, and New York Giant Antonio Pierce’s case involving ex-teammate Plaxico Burress’ accidental shooting.
The University, Cornell confirmed, was not involved in the five-month investigation at all, but Columbia Public Safety was “helpful to the NYPD in facilitating the arrests” made this morning. The investigation will continue. If there is new information about drug dealing at Columbia, the Office will follow that information. However, Cornell commented, “the Office waited until everyone that we wanted to identify and arrest was identified and we made all the arrests we intended to make at Columbia.”
The Office also confirmed that all five suspects were indicted before they were arrested this morning, which is often the case in a long-term investigation such as this one.
Here’s more of what we can expect looking forward: there will be the standard hearing for the five accused students with discovery process, which is the process during which the prosecution turns over evidence to the suspects’ defense attorneys. If the defense lawyers then see any issues with the evidence presented that they wish to take up, they can file a motion to suppress certain pieces of evidence. At least one of the five suspects has made a statement to the police, and defense attorneys can also motion to suppress those original statements.
Although the five defendants have already pleaded not guilty, they may choose to plead guilty to avoid trial, which is potentially a very drawn-out process. If that were the case, the defense and prosecution would discuss the charges and penalty for the five defendants.
The New York Post has video of the students’ arrest.
Just before 6 p.m., we found out that all five arrested students have been arraigned at Manhattan Criminal Court. Their bond and bail amounts follow:
Wymbs’ parents arrived at the Court today with a blank check for his bail. The other students will head to Rikers tonight if their bails are not paid.
We checked in with legal expert and Columbia Law Professor Jeffery Fagan, who commented, “I would guess that (a) they have no priors and so they will get a big discount from the Court at sentencing, and the discount will be even bigger if (b) they give up what they know about the suppliers.” The biggest strike against them is the “multiplicity” of drugs the students were selling. This isn’t an informal weed-dealing situation, Fagan noted.
And here’s a synthesis of what happened today, starting at 6:30 a.m. After a five-month investigation by the NYPD’s Special Narcotics Unit dubbed “Operation Ivy League,” five Columbians [Chris Coles (CC ’12), Harrison David (SEAS ’12), Adam Klein (CC ’12), Joseph Stephen Perez (aka Stephan Vincenzo, CC ’12), and Michael Wymbs (SEAS ’11)] were arrested for having and dealing sizable amounts of marijuana, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, and Adderall. They were arrested between 6 and 7 a.m. this morning. Police unhinged the locks of Mike Wymbs’s EC suite to arrest him.
The full police report can be found here.
Then the Internet exploded. We’re looking at hundreds and hundreds of Tweets (including this one from our own fake-PrezBo) articles from Gawker, Gothamist, New York Times, Wall Street Journal… even the Las Vegas Sun. Reporters and news trucks swamped Frat Row.
The University has issued comment only through Dean Shollenberger’s email this morning, in which he pointed to the student handbook’s rules about alcohol and drug use. Students for a Sensible Drug Policy also issued a statement this afternoon calling today a “sad day, because the real problems related to drug use that desperately need to be addressed, were not” and the events of today the result of “poor policy.”
None of the Greek councils has issued comment yet, but tipsters spotted girls taking down posters for an event with Theta and Pike. We have heard that members of the Greek Life community are meeting tonight to discuss the ramifications of today’s events for the community, but the Councils have not confirmed this.
Some wild cards looking forward: there’s Miron Sarzynski, one of the East Village suppliers currently being held at Rikers Island. Sarzynski asked one of the undercover cops working on Operation Ivy League to help him “kidnap and torture” rival cocaine dealers. Going forward, it seems likely that the sentencing of the “Columbia 5” will depend on how much information they can give about their downtown suppliers. We’ve also heard that Coles’ parents are both lawyers. The arrested students’ decision to plead “not guilty” also opens some questions about how their hearing will proceed. For tonight, we know that they’ll be sleeping at Rikers if their bail is not paid.