Charges lessened for four Beta Theta Pi brothers who pleaded guilty. Legal analyst explains why…

Local News

Bellefonte, Centre County, Pa- Four former Beta Theta Pi brothers plead guilty Thursday to charges not directly related to pledge Timothy Piazza’s death.

The brothers entered court to plead guilty to multiple hazing and alcohol related charges, But, with the approval of the State Attorney General’s office, many of those charges were dropped.

Michael Fernandez entered the courthouse with four charges related to hazing and alcohol, which were negotiated to one count of hazing.

Brian Gelb had 11 charges negotiated down to one count of hazing and one liquor code violation.

Similarly Donald Prior had seven charges against him dropped to one count of hazing and one liquor code violation.

The assistant pledge master at the time of Piazza’s death, Joseph Sala, saw 14 charges go down to three counts of hazing and one count of conspiracy to commit hazing.

Some of these charges stem from the original prosecutor in this case, the former Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller.

“They didn’t know who had done what yet, so they sort of charged everybody with everything,” said Tony DeBoef, WTAJ’s legal analyst.

The current prosecutors from the State Attorney General’s Office inherited these charges when they took over the case

DeBeof explained why he felt some of the charges were dropped:

“I think when you’re negotiating a settlement, sometimes you let go of some things as long as you get a conviction… and at this point they got a conviction of these 4 young men.”

He also indicated what he expects for future brothers…

“There’s a couple other young men scheduled to plead guilty in the next several days…. we’ll see how many are left at the time of trial. I believe the [State] Attorney General is really focusing most of their case now against the president and pledge master. I would assume that case will definitely go to trial because that’s the person they want to hold responsible for the death.”

That trial for former Beta Theta pledge master Daniel Casey, and fraternity president Brendan Young, is scheduled to begin April, 3, 2019.

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