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College admissions scam prosecutor benefited from his own life of privilege

A prosecutor in the Varsity Blues case could soon be schooled in irony.

Adam Schleifer, who helped prosecute Felicity Huffman and other boldfacers for trying to scam their children into top universities, had plenty of family connections and cash as he climbed the Ivy League and career ladders.

Schleifer, 38, recently joined a crowded field of Democrats looking to replace Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Rockland County), who is retiring next year after more than 30 years in office.

Schleifer received his undergraduate degree at Cornell University before going on to Columbia Law School. In and around his time at both schools, family wealth, legacy, personal connections and donations swirled around him.

Schleifer, 38, is the son of billionaire Leonard Schleifer, 66, the co-founder of biotech behemoth Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. He was a triple legacy at Cornell, with his dad, his mom, Harriet Partel Schleifer, and his grandfather, Charles Schleifer, all alums.

During the time his son was accepted and went through Cornell between 1999 and 2003, Leonard Schleifer was also working on staff as a clinical professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College. In 2019 he was honored by the school as “entrepreneur of the year.”

The Schleifers didn’t have direct ties to Columbia, where Adam earned a degree at its prestigious law school in 2006, but Regeneron bigwigs did. Roy Vagelos — who has served as Regeneron’s board chairman since 1995 — has given hundreds of millions of dollars to the school over the decades, according to the university. Company co-founder George Yancopoulos completed all his undergraduate and master’s work there, continued on as a professor, and is currently a member of Columbia medical center’s Precision Medicine Council as well as a vice chairman of its Board of Advisors.

Leonard Schleifer, Andrew Schleifer's father.
Leonard Schleifer, Adam Schleifer’s father.Getty

Schleifer’s family connections also followed him into his professional career. Between 2008 and 2013, he worked as an associate at the white-shoe New York law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Regeneron became a client of Wachtell Lipton in 2013 three months before Schleifer left the firm.

Schleifer spent 2013 to 2016 as special associate counsel at the state Department of Financial Services. Just months after he started, his parents donated more than $10,000 to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign, public records show.

“I fight to make sure that everyone plays by the same rules, and I have always played by those rules myself. No one bought my way into Cornell or Columbia, or anywhere else, nor is it even possible to purchase the academic and professional record that I’ve worked so hard to achieve,” Schleifer said.

His campaign told The Post that Schleifer has received a 1460 out of 1600 on the SAT and a 171 on his LSATs.

While there is no evidence Schleifer ever had an unfair advantage or committed any wrongdoing, the family ties could complicate his run in a crowded Democratic primary where rivals could choose to attack what he touts as his prime qualification — his prosecution of the crooked Varsity Blues elitists.

Harriet Schleifer
Harriet Schleifer speaks during a commemoration of the tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue in October.ZumaPress

“He stood up to those who thought they could cheat the system and cut the line of students, student-athletes, and families who were working hard and playing by the rules,” reads his candidate bio.

“There is a great irony to his candidacy,” Michael V. Lawler, a local campaign strategist who managed Westchester County executive Rob Astorino’s 2014 gubernatorial race, told The Post. “Coming from a politically connected, wealthy and Ivy League-educated family and having been the beneficiary of a very privileged life, he is running on a record of prosecuting others for abusing their wealth.”

“This is clearly something that the campaigns are going to jump on as a way to try and define him out of the gate,” added Democratic strategist Eric Koch.