A national fraternity has been banned in Pennsylvania and ordered to pay a six-figure fine, and four of its former members were sentenced to jail Monday after a 19-year-old freshman pledge died during a hazing ritual in 2013.
Pi Delta Psi, an Asian-American cultural fraternity, was sentenced Monday for the role its Baruch College campus members had in 19-year-old freshman pledge Chun “Michael” Deng’s death.
In Monroe County court, the fraternity — convicted of involuntary manslaughter — was banned from Pennsylvania for 10 years. It was also ordered to pay a fine of more than $110,000.
Four of the fraternity’s former members — Kenny Kwan, Charles Lai, Raymond Lam and Sheldon Wong — who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, hindering apprehension and other charges, were sentenced to jail time.
Kwan got 12 to 24 months in county jail, while Lam and Wong were sentenced to 10 to 24 months each. Lai, who spent 342 days in jail after he was unable to make bail, was sentenced to time served.
All four defendants apologized, and Lam, who was the most emotional, said his “guilt will never go away, and I think about Mr. Deng every day.” He also said he’s attempted to kill himself.
These four men faced the most serious charges. Dozens of other defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to probation.
“It’s the epitome of a lack of acceptance of responsibility,” Assistant District Attorney Kim Metzger said in court. “It’s their rituals and functions that led us here today.”
A grand jury said Pi Delta Psi members physically abused Deng before his death in a hazing ritual at a rented house in the Poconos.
The teen was blindfolded and forced to wear a heavy backpack before he was repeatedly tackled during a ritual known as “glass ceiling.”
He became unconscious and was carried inside the house while fraternity members changed his clothes. The frat brothers did a Google search of his symptoms, and hid banners and other fraternity memorabilia in an attempted cover-up, prosecutors said.
In a written statement, Pi Delta Psi said its now-disbanded Baruch chapter had brought “shame and dishonor” to the national fraternity, while the fraternity also called itself “in part a victim” — which Monroe County President Judge Margherita Patti-Worthington scolded.
“I would never label the national fraternity as a ‘victim,'” the judge said.
“Not one person out of 37 picked up a telephone and called an ambulance. I cannot wrap my head around it,” Judge Patti-Worthington said. “So there’s something greater going on here, and I think it’s probably really prevalent. We see across the country these issues in fraternities.”
Pi Delta Psi has 25 chapters in 11 states, including one at Penn State University that will now have to be disbanded.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.