‘I am embarrassed ... to have played a role in this nightmare.’ Former Beta brother sentenced

Former Beta Theta Pi fraternity brother Michael Schiavone leaves the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte on May 5, 2017.
Former Beta Theta Pi fraternity brother Michael Schiavone leaves the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte on May 5, 2017. Centre Daily Times, file

The former Beta Theta Pi risk manager was sentenced on Thursday to one year of probation and 100 hours of community service after the investigation into Timothy Piazza’s death.

Michael Schiavone managed the fraternity’s “slush fund” and was in charge of obtaining alcohol for fraternity events, including bid acceptance night on Feb. 2, 2017.

According to the grand jury report, Schiavone and former fraternity brother Craig Heimer purchased six handles of Crown Rouse vodka, 15 cases of Natural Light beer and 15 boxes of wine days before the bid acceptance night.

The alcohol was purchased for the social after the bid acceptance night, according to State College police detective David Scicchitano’s grand jury testimony.

Messages from Schiavone’s phone were also reviewed, including one that said, “WE ARE THE SLUSH dues is the slush fund...We are literally a fund that collects money for booze...What do we need to buy booze wise today.”

Fourteen counts of hazing and one count of recklessly endangering another person made it through the preliminary hearing stage, but those charges were dropped in exchange for his guilty plea to one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to furnish alcohol to minors.

His attorney Marc Neff reminded Judge Brian Marshall that Schiavone refused to drink alcohol when he was attempting to join the fraternity. He also said Schiavone is a “very smart, kind and gentle individual.”

Senior Deputy Attorney General disagreed, saying the video depicts him as a man with “callous character.”

Schiavone apologized to Jim and Evelyn Piazza, the Penn State community and the court system.

“First and foremost, to Mr. and Mrs. Piazza, I extend my sincerest condolences,” Schiavone said. “I can’t even imagine losing a child.”

He also said he hopes some good can come from “this horrific event.”

“Every day I think and pray for Timothy Piazza,” Schiavone said. “I am embarrassed and ashamed to have played a role in this nightmare.”

Schiavone was one of eight former fraternity brothers to plead guilty this year.

Ryan Burke was the first, followed by Joseph Ems Jr., Bo Han Song, Schiavone, Patrick Jackson, Jonathan Kanzler, Gary Dibileo II and Aidan O’Brien.

Heimer, Reginald Goeke, Ryan Foster, Ed Gilmartin, Parker Yochim and Lars Kenyon entered into the accelerated rehabilitative disposition program.

Braxton Becker is scheduled for a pre-trial conference on Jan. 25.

The trial for Michael Fernandez, Donald Prior III and Brian Gelb is scheduled to begin Feb. 6.

The trial for Michael Bonatucci, Nicholas Kubera, Joshua Kurczewski and Jonah Neuman’s is scheduled to begin Feb. 14.

The trial for former fraternity president Brendan Young and former pledgemaster Daniel Casey’s is scheduled to begin April 3.

Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He grew up in Lewistown and graduated from Lock Haven University.