Beta Theta Pi brothers’ connections to hazing, Piazza’s death

Local News

Twelve new Beta Theta Pi brothers have been charged from events in regards to a hazing a event at the house and some in connection with the death of pledge Timothy Piazza. 

According to an affidavit of probable cause, the hazing activity included two lineups in which pledges had to drink vodka fast three times and then chug a beer.

RELATED CONTENT: Details from Beta Theta Pi video footage

Pledges were also in an obstacle course, also referred to as the “gauntlet,” where pledges would go through several drinking stations. This entailed drinking vodka fast, shotgunning a beer, chugging from a bag of wine, and then drinking a cup of beer if they missed getting a ping pong ball into a cup.  

According to court paperwork, brothers would take alcohol up to pledges and have them drink it in a short amount of time. 

Monday, Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller announced new charges after the FBI was able to recover surveillance video from the basement showing some of these events. 

According to Parks Miller said based on video, Piazza was furnished with at least 18 drinks in 1 hour and 22 minutes.All of the drinks were given to him by a fraternity brother. 

Five previously charged brothers are also facing additional charges with the recovery of the video. 

Jonathan Kanzler: 

  • Involuntary Manslaughter, 18 Pa.C.S. 2504    (1 count)
  • Aggravated Assault, 18 Pa.C.S. 2702(a)(1)    (1 count)
  • Simple Assault, 18 Pa.C.S. 2701(a)(1)     (1 count)
  • Reckless Endangering Another Person, 18 Pa.C.S. 2705  (1 count)  
  • Hazing, 23 P.S. 5353         (2 counts)  
  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (2 counts)  
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (2 counts)  
  • Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor, 18 Pa.C.S. 6308   (1 count) 

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Kanzler was 18 years old at the time of the incident. Police said Kanzler’s involvement was “a continuation of hazing activity that night that included two lineups in which pledges had to drink vodka fast 3 times and chug a can of beet in two separate lineups.” 

Police said Kanzler was part of the obstacle of drinking stations an at the “beer shotgun station.” According to court paperwork, police believe that Kanzler had knowledge of the hazing and alcohol events of the night. They also believe the alcohol from a wine bag held up to Piazza and had him drink from contributed to the fall that lead to his death. 

Joshua Kurczewski:

  • Involuntary Manslaughter, 18 Pa.C.S. 2504    (1 count)
  • Aggravated Assault, 18 Pa.C.S. 2702(a)(1)     (1 count)
  • Simple Assault, 18 Pa.C.S. 2701(a)(1)     (1 count)
  • Reckless Endangering Another Person, 18 Pa.C.S. 2705   (1 count)
  • Hazing, 23 P.S. 5353        (10 counts)
  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (8 counts)
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (8 counts) 

According to court paperwork, Kurczewski was part of the obstacle course and at the beer pong station. In surveillance video he was seen giving several pledges a can of beer, including Piazza, in which they had to do a shotgun chug. 

Police also say that Kurczewski was a newly initiated brother and became part of the fraternity during the previous semester, and would have gone through the same hazing/furnishing activity.

According to the affidavit, police believe the alcohol Kurczewski gave Piazza contributed to his fall. 

Bo Han Song: 

  • Involuntary Manslaughter, 18 Pa.C.S. 2504    (1 count)
  • Aggravated Assault, 18 Pa.C.S. 2702(a)(1)    (1 count)
  • Simple Assault, 18 Pa.C.S. 2701(a)(1)     (1 count)
  • Reckless Endangering Another Person, 18 Pa.C.S. 2705  (1 count)  
  • Hazing, 23 P.S. 5353         (3 counts)  
  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (3 counts)  
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (3 counts)
  • Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor, 18 Pa.C.S. 6308   (1 count) 

In the basement video, Song was seen giving alcohol to several pledges, including Piazza. Police said that when Song gave Piazza a handle of vodka and he chugged it, Piazza was already visibly staggering/swaying, according to the affidavit.  

According to court paperwork, Song was “observed on video to go towards the wine station at the top of the basement stairs just prior to it starting.” 

Song also pledged the semester before. 

According to the affidavit, police believe the alcohol Song gave Piazza contributed to his fall. 

Ryan Burke: 

  • Involuntary Manslaughter, 18 Pa.C.S. 2504   (1 count)
  • Aggravated Assault, 18 Pa.C.S. 2702(a)(1)    (1 count)
  • Simple Assault, 18 Pa.C.S. 2701(a)(1)      (1 count)
  • Reckless Endangering Another Person, 18 Pa.C.S. 2705   (1 count)
  • Hazing, 23 P.S. 5353        (4 counts)
  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (4 counts)
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493    (4 counts) 

According to court paperwork, Burke was 20 years old the night of the “gauntlet.”

Police found in the surveillance video that Burke gave four underage pledges, that included Piazza, a handle of vodka to chug from during the night. 

According to the affidavit, Burke attended “the beer shotgun station where he pushed a pledge, and he was at the been pong station.”

Police believe the alcohol that he gave Piazza contributed to his fall. 

Aidan O’Brien:

  • Involuntary Manslaughter, 18 Pa.C.S. 2504    (1 count)
  • Aggravated Assault, 18 Pa.C.S. 2702(a)(1)    (1 count)
  • Simple Assault, 18 Pa.C.S. 2701(a)(1)     (1 count)
  • Reckless Endangering Another Person, 18 Pa.C.S. 2705  (1 count)  
  • Hazing, 23 P.S. 5353         (1 count)  
  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (1 count)  
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (1 count)
  • Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor, 18 Pa.C.S. 6308   (1 count) 

According to police paperwork, O’Brien gave Piazza a can of beer and held a bag of wine to him and Piazza had to chug it. 

Before that, O’Brien was seen in surveillance video at the beer pong station before he gave the beer and wine to Piazza. 

O’Brien pledged during the previous semester and police said he would have went through the same hazing/furnishing activity. 

According to the affidavit, police believe the alcohol that O’Brien gave Piazza contributed to his fall. 

Joseph Ems: 

  • Hazing, 23 P.S. 5353         (1 count)
  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (1 count)
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (1 count) 

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Ems gave a pledge a bottle of vodka. The 19-year-old pledge started to chug the bottle, and Ems tilted the bottle further causing the pledge to chug more and faster. 

Police said Ems attended both the vodka and beer shotgun station during the obstacle course. 

Official said that Ems had knowledge of the hazing and alcohol events that night. 

Brian Gleb:

  • Hazing, 23 P.S. 5353         (6 counts)
  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (5 counts)
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (5 counts) 

According to the affidavit, Gleb held up a bag of wine for four underage pledges to chug from during the night. Gleb was also seen in surveillance video giving an “already visibly drunk” 19-year-old pledge a handle of vodka to drink. 

Police said Gleb attended the beer pong station during the obstacle course. 

Gleb pledged the semester before and would have went through the same hazing activity, according to paperwork. 

Police said Gleb had knowledge of the hazing and alcohol events. 

Patrick Jackson: 

  • Hazing, 23 P.S. 5353         (2 counts)
  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (2 counts)
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (2 counts) 

According to the affidavit, Jackson handed an underage pledge a handle of vodka, which the pledge drank from. Jackson took the same handle of vodka and gave it to another underage pledge who chugged from it. 

Reginald Goeke: 

  • Hazing, 23 P.S. 5353         (1 count)
  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (1 count)
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (1 count) 

Goeke was seen on the surveillance video pouring a can of beer into the mouth of an 18-year-old pledge, according to the affidavit.

Police also said that Goeke attended the beer shotgun station in the lobby of the fraternity house. 

Officials said that Goeke had knew about the hazing and alcohol related events of that night. 

Mike Fernandez: 

  • Hazing, 23 P.S. 5353         (2 counts)
  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (2 counts)
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (2 counts)

According to the affidavit,  Fernandez was seen holding up a bag of wine for two 19-year-old pledges that they both chugged from. 

Fernandez was also part of the shotgun station during the obstacle course. 

Police said  Fernandez had knowledge of the hazing and alcohol activities that occurred during that night. 

Donald Prior: 

  • Hazing, 23 P.S. 5353         (4 counts)
  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (3 counts)
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (3 counts)

According to police paperwork, Prior was seen on surveillance video cheering while at the shotgun station during the obstacle course. 

Prior was also seen giving a handle of vodka to two underage pledges who chugged from the bottles. 

According to the affidavit, Prior held up a bag of wine to a 23-year-old pledge, who chugged from it. He also gave an 18-year-old pledge a can of beer.  

Police believe that Prior knew of the hazing and alcohol related events. 

Braxton Becker: 

  • Tampering with Evidence, 18 Pa.C.S. 4910     (1 count)  
  • Obstructing Administration of Law, 18 Pa.C.S. 5101    (1 count)
  • Hindering Apprehension, 18 Pa.C.S. 5105(3)     (1 count)  

According to the affidavit of probable cause, when police went in to get the surveillance video machines the detective took pictures of everything, including what he believed was an IP address because he did not trust Becker. 

A State College Police Analyst determined that there appeared to be a deletion within one of the videos. That’s when it was sent to the FBI for recovery. 

During the investigation, police recovered several text message conversations Becker had about the video. In one conversation with another brother, they talked about deleting the video from the night of Piazza’s death. 

After recovering the video, police found that it shows Piazza drinking 18 drinks in under an hour and a half.  Each of them were given to him by members of the fraternity. 

In addition to these newly charged defendants, the following previously charged Beta brothers now face additional criminal charges based on their actions on basement video:

Luke Visser: 

  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (11 counts)
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (11 counts) 

According to the affidavit, Visser held up a bag of wine for 10 underage pledges, including Piazza, who all chugged from the bag. He was also seen handing a beer to a pledge that staggered into one room and sat on a table. Police said surveillance video shows Visser recording the pledge with his phone while the pledge chugged the beer. The pledge then fell back on the table. 

Gary Dibileo: 

  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (5 counts)
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (5 counts) 

Dibileo held a bag of wine up for four 19-year-old pledges — including Piazza — which all four of them chugged from it, according to court paperwork. 

Dibileo was also seen handing a can of beer to an underage pledge at the bar in the fraternity house. 

Michael Bonatucci: 

  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (2 counts)
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (2 counts)

According to police paperwork, Bonatucci gave a can of beer to an 18-year-old pledge who chugged it and held a bag of wine for brother Kanzler, 18. 

Parker Yochim: 

  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (1 count)
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (1 count)
  • Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor, 18 Pa.C.S. 6308   (1 count) 

According to the affidavit,Yochim was seen on the surveillance video giving a can of beer to an 18-year-old pledge. Yochim was 19 years old at the time. 

Nick Kubera:

  • Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1   (2 counts)
  • Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor, 47 P.S. 4-493   (2 counts) 

WTAJ is still working to get paperwork for Kubera.

Check back for updates and continuing coverage on WTAJ News and WeAreCentralPA.com. 

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