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Penn State fraternity gave pledge 18 drinks in nearly 90 minutes, charges upgraded, prosecutor says

A recovered surveillance video where a toast died following a hazing ritual revealed that the 19-year-old had been given at least 18 beverages within 90 minutes, leading prosecutors to file manslaughter charges and fresh hazing, officials said Monday.

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller billed 12 additional men in the case, bringing the total number of Beta Theta Pi brothers and pledges being billed to 17 in total.  

Timothy Piazza, 19, of Lebanon, N.J., dropped down a set of stairs and suffered fatal injuries on Feb. 9 after prosecutors said pledges were forced to down a dangerous amount of alcohol and were subsequently made to run a “gauntlet” of booze-drinking channels.  

The charges come from surveillance video which showed members of the fraternity providing Piazza 18 alcoholic beverages in the span of 22 minutes and 1 hour, Parks Miller said.

The video was deleted following members were made aware police intended to acquire the footage, and that an investigation to Piazza & rsquo; s passing was under way.

Timothy Piazza, 19, dropped down a set of stairs and suffered injuries.     (AP)

The cellar video captured the continuing furnishing of alcohol, and the hazing that happened on bidding acceptance night by Beta brothers to Piazza, in addition to another pledges, during the night.

“In reality, on video, Tim Piazza doesn’t acquire his own alcohol in any point-rather, every drink consumed was provided to him with a fraternity brother,” her office said in a news release.

“Hazing needs to stop, there’s just no place for this.”

– Jim Piazza, father of former Penn State Student Timothy Piazza

Parks Miller said FBI agents could reestablish the surveillance video in the hard disk in the house’s cellar.

“Folks had asked us before, why would someone had delete this video when they did delete it? That’s what we wanted to understand,” she said. “Well now we know, because it contained criminal behavior. ” 


Prosecutors announced they proceeded to reinstate most of the dismissed charges against 11 members of their now-defunct Penn State fraternity for actions linked to the death of their pledge this year, last month.

Parks Miller declared the refiling of charges, including manslaughter and felony following the felony charges were thrown out by District Justice Allen Sinclair against eight Beta Thea Pi fraternity members in September, aggravated assault, her office said in a media release.

The judge let stand lesser charges against both others, but dismissed charges altogether against four of the members of their fraternity. If convicted, as a result, these defendants face the possibility of decades in prison.

Security video of the incident recorded Piazza appearing intoxicated and being led to a sofa after 11 p.m.. He dropped head-first down a set of cellar stairs and had to be transported back up in a subconscious condition.

Members of the fraternity appeared to tend for their wounded friend, hammering on a loaded back to stop him from choking on vomit and rolling over and pouring liquid on him. He died two days later on Feb. 4 in a local hospital.

“Hazing needs to stop, there’s just no place for this,” Timothy Piazza’s dad Jim said in a news conference.

Penn State said last week that it penalized seven students in connection with Piazza’s departure who were discovered to be in violation of the student code of behavior of the university.

Penalties ranged from probation to expulsion, the school said, however, it didn’t offer a breakdown.

Violations included “hazing” and “creating a condition that endangers,” the college said. It didn’t recognize the students.

Another 19 students must finish it prior to returning to Penn State and withdrew before completing the procedure, the college said. Six students participated in the procedure and weren’t charged with any violations.

Prosecutors on Monday charged with Ryan Liam Burke, Bo Han Sang, Joshua Robert Kurczewski, Aiden O’Brien and Jonathan Kanzler with felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter due to their alleged roles in the events that led to Piazza’s departure in February. The five were also charged with misdemeanor simple assault, misdemeanor endangering another person, misdemeanor hazing and misdemeanor furnishing liquor to a minor, according to the DA.

Along with the five, Mike Fernandez, Brian Gelb, Patrick Jackson, Reggie Goeke, Donald Prior and Joseph Ems were charged with misdemeanor hazing and misdemeanor supplying alcohol to minors.

Prosecutors also filed charges with tampering with evidence, obstructing government of law enforcement for trying to destroy the recording, and hindering apprehension.

Fox News’ Michelle Chavez and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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