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PA Attorney General Appeals Dismissal Of Charges In Penn State Hazing Case

A Penn State student died of an overdose earlier this year. Last Friday, the man who sold him those drugs received his sentence.
Min Xian
The Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office is appealing the dismissal of some charges in the case of the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza.

The attorney general’s office is fighting to reinstate charges against eight defendants, including involuntary manslaughter charges faced by five former fraternity members.

President of the now-banned Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Brendan Young, and pledge master, Daniel Casey, are among those who had involuntary manslaughter charges cleared, but they both will go to trial on charges of conspiracy to commit hazing.

Under the appeal, former Beta Theta Pi members Jonah Neuman, Gary Dibileo and Luke Visser could once again face involuntary manslaughter charges.

After Judge Allen Sinclair dismissed the most severe charges both in March and last September, the remaining comparatively minor charges include hazing and furnishing alcohol to minors.

Shapiro took over the case after Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna recused himself in January. After the ruling in March, Shapiro said he was disappointed at the dismissal of charges and that his office was “assessing our legal options.”

In a statement announcing the decision to appeal, Joe Grace, a spokesperson for Shapiro, said prosecution “laid out the required elements of the charges” and appealed “in the interest of justice for the Piazza family.”

Leonard Ambrose, the attorney for Joe Sala, said the prosecution’s move is leading nowhere.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is just another abusive attempt to manipulate the system of justice when you don’t like the result,” Ambrose said. His client could once again face charges of reckless endangerment and conspiracy to commit hazing under the appeal.

A lawyer for the Piazza family said the family wholeheartedly supports the appeal. The Piazzas have also been advocating for the passage of an anti-hazing bill named after Tim Piazza. The bill unanimously passed the state Senate last week.

A third preliminary hearing for 11 new defendants in the case begins next week.

Min Xian reported at WPSU from 2016-2022.
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