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Former Beta Theta Pi Brother Sentenced To Probation

Another former Beta Theta Pi brother was sentenced on Tuesday as the case stemming from the 2017 death of Penn State sophomore and fraternity pledge Timothy Piazza continues to wind down.

Jonathan P. Kanzler, 20, of Coopersburg, received six months probation and $3,500 in fines after previously pleading guilty in October to two misdemeanor counts of furnishing alcohol to minors. After a preliminary hearing in May 2018, he had two counts of hazing and two liquor code violations held for trial, but those charges were dropped following his plea.

The sentence was in line with the recommendation by prosecutors from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, who suggested standard range guidelines. After statements from Kanzler, several family friends, and Kanzler’s mother, Centre County Judge Brian Marashall said that in comparison to the numerous defendants who have pleaded guilty in the case, Kanzler “very appropriately expressed great remorse, maybe more than others.”

Kanzler, one of more than two dozen defendants in the case, was among those charged in November 2017 after the recovery of deleted basement video footage from the fraternity’s bid acceptance night on Feb. 2, 2017. He was seen holding up a bag of wine for Piazza and another pledge to drink from during a party that followed an alcohol-fueled initiation ceremony.

Piazza was given 18 alcoholic drinks in a period of 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 from a shattered spleen.

Family friends described Kanzler as a caring person who has rededicated himself to helping others since Piazza’s death. His mother expressed sorrow for the Piazza family and said that she knows “nothing can compare to their loss.” She said it feels “selfish for me to talk about heartbreak,” knowing what the Piazzas have gone through.

Defense attorney Brian McMonagle said Kanzler has moved forward “with a single purpose: to honor Tim Piazza’s memory,” adding that he took responsibility for his actions and has cooperated with law enforcement.

After becoming certified as an EMT last year, Kanzler has since volunteered for 140 hours with an EMS service at Lehigh University, where he now goes to school and will be a resident assistant in the fall. Marshall credited him for the “extraordinary amount of community service,” he has performed.

Kanzler also expressed sorrow for the Piazzas and said he regrets the “thoughtlessness” of his actions and attitude toward drinking at the time. He also said he wants the Piazzas to know he is sorry he did not realize their son was in need of medical attention when he left the party.

Kanzler is among 17 defendants to have entered guilty pleas in the case. Six others were accepted into Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) programs for first-time offenders. 

Former chapter president Brendan Young and pledgemaster Daniel Casey still face trial, on charges of recklessly endangering another person, hazing and furnishing, but their case has been put on hold pending an appeal to state Superior Court. Braxton Becker, who was accused of deleting basement video footage from the house’s surveillance system, was found guilty of hindering apprehension and not guilty of tampering and obstruction in May. He is scheduled to be sentenced in August.

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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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