Eight more frat members arraigned on charges in death of Timothy Piazza

Michael Schiavone
Michael Schiavone Centre Daily Times, file

The remaining eight members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, as well as the fraternity itself, faced arraignment Tuesday at the Centre County Courthouse.

The result of the arraignment — all brothers released on the own recognizance on $50,000 bail.

The eight Beta members — Michael Angelo Schiavone, Lars Kenyon, Ed Gilmartin, Ryan McCann, Lucas Rockwell, Braxton Becker, Ryan Foster and Joseph Ems — all face charges related to their suspected roles in the death of Timothy Piazza in February. Ten other fraternity members faced arraignment on Friday, with the most serious charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault to hazing and furnishing alcohol to minors.

Piazza, 19, was a pledge at Beta Theta Pi. According to police, he fell at a party about 12 hours before a frat member called 911. A grand jury presentment released last week detailed the investigation into Piazza’s death and the subsequent charges brought against those believed to be involved.

Centre County President Judge Thomas King Kistler presided over the arraignment, opting to arraign several as a group because they all faced the same charge. Conditions with bail included no consumption of alcohol, no traveling outside of their home state without court approval and surrendering their passports within 10 days.

District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller requested a condition that the frat members also have no contact with any witnesses as outlined in the grand jury presentment, saying Kenyon has reportedly already reached out to one member via text messages. Kistler granted the condition.

Schiavone and Kenyon faced the most charges with 52 counts each ranging from reckless endangerment, hazing, furnishing alcohol to minors and unlawful acts relative to liquor.

The more serious misdemeanor charges could carry a penalty of up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine, Kistler said.

Ems faces a single count of reckless endangerment, while Gilmartin, McCann, Rockwell, Becker and Foster each face a charge of tampering with evidence.

Several of the attorneys for the members requested travel arrangements, as most would be traveling between their home states to other states for summer jobs or internships and back to Pennsylvania for future court hearings.

Beta Theta Pi was formally charged as a corporation with involuntary manslaughter, hazing, furnishing alcohol to minors and unlawful acts related to liquor.

Parks Miller said following the arraignment that while it’s impossible to imprison a corporation, charges attached to the corporation reflect on its record and could result in fines and affect future prospects for that organization.

William Brennan, Ems’ attorney, spoke briefly with the media outside of the courtroom after the arraignment, sharing his condolences with the Piazza family and saying he has not yet seen the surveillance footage of the incident.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews