Former Fraternity Member Placed On House Arrest For Involvement In Pledge’s Death

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Ryan Burke, one of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity members charged in the hazing death of Timothy Piazza, has been sentenced to three months of house arrest.

In addition to the house arrest, Burke was sentenced to 27 months’ probation and ordered to pay fines, costs, and restitution.

Burke, 21, pleaded guilty in June to four counts of hazing and five counts related to unlawful acts involving liquor. The Scranton resident is just one of more than 20 members of the now-closed fraternity to face criminal charges over the February 2017 death of Timothy Piazza

Last November, Burke was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment, however, the attorney general’s office dropped the most serious charges in April.

In addition to Burke, former fraternity member Joseph Ems Jr. is also scheduled to enter a guilty plea on August 8. The plea is scheduled to be heard by Judge Brian Marshall, who sentenced Ryan Burke on Tuesday, July 31. At this time, it is not clear when Ems intended to plead guilty.

via NY Times:

Tom Kline, a lawyer for Mr. Piazza’s parents, Evelyn and James Piazza, said Tuesday that the sentence was “an important step on the long road to justice for the Piazza family.”

Mr. Burke apologized briefly to Mr. Piazza’s family before the sentencing, according to The Associated Press. Mr. Burke’s lawyer, Philip Masorti, said the punishment was fair, The A.P. reported. Mr. Masorti did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A prosecution sentencing memo filed last week said Mr. Burke, who is from Scranton, Pa., held the position of “rush chair” and was in charge of recruitment.

Piazza tragically passed away on February 4, 2017, after suffering a fractured skull and severe abdominal injuries from a fall during pledge night activities at the Beta Theta Pi house at Penn State. During the night, Piazza’s blood-alcohol level went “from a zero to as high as a .36”

Piazza’s death spurred a cascade of changes in the Penn State Greek life community and across the country. The school levied hard sanctions against greek life focused on hazing. These changes altered the rules for how fraternities and sororities can recruit members and host social events with alcohol. Beta Theta Pi was also permanently banned from Penn State.

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