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Another Former Beta Theta Pi Brother Scheduled To Plead Guilty

A former Beta Theta Pi member is scheduled to become the fourth defendant to enter a guilty plea in the Penn State fraternity hazing case.

Michael Angelo Schiavone will plead guilty on Oct. 22 before Judge Brian Marshall, according to court records.

The 23-year-old from Clearwater, Fla., had one count of recklessly endangering another person and 14 counts of hazing held for trial following a preliminary hearing in 2017. Additional refiled charges were dismissed after a preliminary hearing in March.

During the spring 2017 semester, Schiavone was in charge of the Beta Theta Pi’s so-called “slush fund” used to collect money for alcohol for fraternity event, including the bid acceptance night on Feb. 2, 2017. That night, 19-year-old Timothy Piazza and 13 other pledges were put through “the gauntlet,”  a series of drinking stations in which they consumed beer, wine and vodka in rapid succession. The initiation was followed by a party in the fraternity’s basement.

Investigators said Piazza was given 18 drinks in 82 minutes before he fell head-first down the basement stairs. Piazza died two days later as a result of non-recoverable brain injuries and massive internal bleeding caused by a shattered spleen.

At two preliminary hearings, the lead detective in the case testified that Schiavone was largely absent on surveillance video the night of Piazza’s fall and did not participate in the gauntlet or the party. Schiavone’s attorney, Marc Neff, also said that Schiavone doesn’t drink alcohol, which he said showed drinking was not a prerequisite for being accepted into the fraternity.

In June, Ryan Burke was the first defendant in the case to enter a guilty plea, to four counts of hazing and five alcohol charges. Like Song, Burke was among the brothers who provided alcohol to Piazza. He was sentenced in July to three months house arrest, 27 months of probation, 100 hours of community service and fines.

Joseph Ems pleaded guilty on Aug. 8 to one count of hazing and one count of unlawful acts relative to liquor. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 27. Ems provided alcohol to a pledge, tipping back a bottle of vodka, but did not give alcohol to Piazza.

Bo Han Song pleaded guilty on Aug. 30 to two counts of furnishing alcohol to minors. Those charges were negotiated with the Office of Attorney General and three counts of hazing and four other alcohol charges were dropped. Song gave Piazza his final drink of alcohol and also provided vodka to another pledge. His sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

Nearly 20 other defendants still face charges in the case, which is scheduled for trial in February 2019.

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About the Author

Geoff Rushton (StateCollege.com)

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

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