Crime

Police refile charges against two Beta Theta Pi brothers

Former Beta Theta Pi house manager Braxton Becker leaves the Centre County Courthouse in September 2017 after the judge dismissed his charge of tampering with evidence in the death of Tim Piazza.
Former Beta Theta Pi house manager Braxton Becker leaves the Centre County Courthouse in September 2017 after the judge dismissed his charge of tampering with evidence in the death of Tim Piazza. Centre Daily Times, file

The State College Police Department refiled charges against two former Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers after a Centre County district judge dismissed those same charges in May.

Braxton Becker, 21, allegedly deleted video from the basement of the fraternity house, which was ultimately recovered by the FBI.

Prosecutors displayed a photo of Becker in front of the camera system with his finger on the remote at the same time the FBI said the footage was deleted, but detective Craig Ripka testified at a preliminary hearing that he could not tell if Becker was deleting the video in the photo.

Joshua Kurczewski, who was referred to as "nothing more than a human Pez dispenser" when handing out drinks to pledges, is charged with recklessly endangering another person, furnishing liquor to minors and conspiracy to commit hazing.

Jeffrey Veitch, Kurczewski's attorney, said the 20-year-old was giving alcoholic drinks to pledges at the direction of pledge master Daniel Casey.

Detective David Scicchitano said he refiled the complaint with District Judge Steven Lachman after receiving written approval from Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Zarallo, who is one of three prosecutors assigned to the case.

The Office of the Attorney General accepted the case after District Attorney Bernie Cantorna cited a conflict of interest.

Tom Kline, attorney for Jim and Evelyn Piazza, was critical of Lachman's decision to dismiss the charges against Becker and Kurczewski, but said he and the family are pleased to see that the charges were refiled.

"We are pleased to see the refiling of charges and look forward to the day when there will be full justice for Tim Piazza," Kline said.

Karen Muir and Jeffrey Veitch — attorneys for Becker and Kurczewski respectively — did not respond for comment. A member of the State College Police Department who would have knowledge of the investigation was not available for comment.

Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro, on May 1, 2018, discusses differences in charges against former Beta Theta Pi fraternity members being pursued by his office and those originally filed by former Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller.

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