Four Baruch College fraternity brothers have pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of a 19-year-old pledge during a weekend trip in the Poconos in December 2013. Kenny Kwan, 28, Charles Lai, 26, Raymond Lam, 23, and Sheldon Wong, 24, had been charged with murder, but took the plea deal for reduced charges, which also included "hindering apprehension for concealing or destroying evidence."
Chen "Michael" Deng suffered brain trauma while being hazed during a "Glass Ceiling" ritual at the Pi Delta Psi retreat. The game involves blindfolded participants carrying weighted bags on their backs while proceeding across a field to someone calling them. Then other players tackle the blindfolded target. The Monroe County District Attorney's office said that the fraternity brothers "caus[ed] multiple blunt force trauma to his head and chest."
According to the Pocono Record, "The last of the pledges to go through this, Deng was tackled until being knocked unconscious to the ground. Wong did not tackle Deng, but was the pledge educator responsible for setting the rules and not letting the ritual get out of hand. Lam, Lai and Kwan were the last three in the gauntlet to tackle Deng, after which the frat brothers then carried the unconscious Deng into the house."
The fraternity brothers apparently didn't called 911 after Deng lost consciousness and waited hours—they did Internet searches about his condition and how to revive him—before finally taking him to a hospital 30 miles away, where Deng died.
The fraternity brothers also apparently cleaned up the house, at the direction of the fraternity's national chapter president Andy Meng.
The Pocono Record reports that each of the four men "faces a maximum of 25 years in state prison and a $25,000 fine on the manslaughter plea, along with a maximum of seven years in state prison and a $15,000 fine on the hindering-apprehension plea," and a minimum of 22-24 months. A lawyer for Lam said, "They were always willing to accept responsibility, and the legal battle was over what the level of responsibility was. I hope the judge is going to understand that nobody intended for this to happen and sentence accordingly."
There are still cases against 32 other Pi Delta Psi members, and the Monroe County D.A.'s office says the murder "trial against the Fraternity scheduled [will] commence in November, 2017."
The brutal hazing tactics of fraternities have come under further scrutiny. This month, more details have emerged regarding the February 2017 death of a N.J. teen during a Penn State hazing. Timothy Piazza, 19, was found dead with a blood alcohol content of .40 after going through Beta Theta Pi's "gauntlet."
Pledges "guzzled vodka, shotgunned beers, drank from wine bags, and played multiple rounds of beer pong at a series of alcohol stations, where they downed four to five drinks in two-minute spans," according to a member, and Philly.com detailed how during 11 hours, the fraternity members continued to tackle an unconscious Piazza and ignored a concerned member's demands that they get help for him.
After Piazza tried to move on his own but fell repeatedly, including down the basement stairs, fraternity members allegedly tried to wake Piazza up. Philly.com reports, "Still, they did not call 911, the grand jury recounted. Over the course of 42 more minutes, the video footage shows them hauling Piazza back upstairs, shaking him, and attempting to prop his limp body up on the couch. At one point, the men can be seen trying to dress him, but struggling against the stiffness that had set into his limbs, grand jurors said."
That's when 911 was called; Piazza died the following day, on February 4th. The chapter's president and vice president face involuntary manslaughter charges.