Crime

2 more former Beta Theta Pi brothers sentenced in Penn State hazing

Kubera leaves sentencing

Former Beta Theta Pi fraternity brother Nicholas Kubera walks walks out of the Centre County Courthouse Annex after being sentenced for his involvement with the death of Timothy Piazza in February 2017.
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Former Beta Theta Pi fraternity brother Nicholas Kubera walks walks out of the Centre County Courthouse Annex after being sentenced for his involvement with the death of Timothy Piazza in February 2017.

Two former Penn State fraternity brothers who were charged after a pledge’s death avoided jail time Monday.

Centre County Judge Brian Marshall set minimum sentences of two months’ house arrest for both Nicholas Kubera and Jonah Neuman. Both are former Beta Theta Pi members who were investigated after Timothy Piazza’s alcohol-fueled death in February 2017.

Both were also fined at least $1,500, ordered to complete 100 hours of community service and are set to be on probation for more than a year. Both pleaded guilty in January to three counts of hazing and one count of conspiracy to commit hazing.

Jim and Evelyn Piazza again read a statement to Marshall before sentencing, as they did when four former Beta Theta Pi brothers were sentenced April 2. Neuman and Kubera “chose cruelty over being a true brother,” Evelyn Piazza said.

In her sentencing memo to Marshall, Deputy Attorney General Megan Madaffari said Neuman and Kubera were involved in providing alcohol to 14 pledges, 12 of which were younger than 21.

Neuman, 21, of Nashville, Tennessee, was one of several brothers who carried Piazza’s unconscious body up the fraternity steps after his “hair first” fall. Neuman then put a cushion under Piazza’s head, got him a mop and bucket and stayed with him for about three hours, Madaffari said.

“Neuman was in a very unique position in comparison to other fraternity brothers ... because he had a vantage point that allowed him to continuously observe the condition of Timothy Piazza throughout the evening,” Madaffari wrote. “The extensive information that (Neuman) had regarding the condition of Piazza came from his own experience and seeing it with his own eyes. ... He saw it for himself, over and over again, yet still did nothing. A vomit bucket and a backpack are not the help that Piazza needed.”

An autopsy estimated Piazza had a blood alcohol content several times the legal threshold for DUI. He also suffered head and abdominal injuries.

“However misguided ... he thought he was helping him,” defense attorney Bob Daniels said.

Before Neuman reportedly put a backpack on Piazza, the 19-year-old and his fellow pledges were ushered through a “gauntlet,” which included a beer shotgun station manned by Kubera.

Kubera was “more aggressive and intimidating” than anyone else and set the tone for the rest of the night, Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Zarallo said.

Kubera, a 21 year-old from Houston, Texas, said he was “heartbroken” because of the incident and is “deeply sorry.” Defense attorney Andrew Shubin said Kubera’s conduct was “reckless,” even if he didn’t know so at the time.

As the more than 2-year-old case continues, former fraternity president Brendan Young, 23, of Malvern, and vice president and pledge master Daniel Casey, 21, of Ronkonkoma, New York, face charges that include reckless endangerment, hazing and alcohol violations. Their case was paused after state prosecutors appealed an order that evidence from their cellphones can’t be used.

Former house manager Braxton Becker, 22, of Niskayuna, New York, is scheduled for trial on May 28. He’s accused of intentionally deleting video from the fraternity house.

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


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