Crime

‘Know that Tim lives on in my future.’ Former Penn State frat member sentenced in hazing case

A former Beta Theta Pi fraternity member who pleaded guilty to furnishing alcohol to Timothy Piazza was sentenced Thursday to six months of probation and a $1,000 fine.

Aidan O’Brien, 22, of Chester County, pleaded guilty in December to one misdemeanor count of furnishing alcohol to a minor. He held up a bag of Franzia wine for Piazza to drink from during the fraternity’s social in February 2017, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by State College police.

The drink O’Brien gave Piazza was among the 18 Piazza drank in a span of 82 minutes, according to police. The 19-year-old later died from injuries after falling down the fraternity’s basement stairs. Forensic pathologist Harry Kamerow estimated Piazza’s blood alcohol content was between 0.28% and 0.36%, police said.

O’Brien played “a relatively minor role,” Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Zarallo and defense lawyer Karen Muir told Centre County Judge Brian Marshall before the sentence was announced.

“This was an appropriate resolution by Judge Marshall for the crimes with which Mr. O’Brien was charged,” Muir said after the hearing. “Nothing will change the broken heart of the Piazzas, but hopefully everyone can start moving forward and heal.”

O’Brien’s mother, Allison, and brother, Sean, each described him as polite, respectful and reserved. O’Brien was contrite as he addressed Marshall, saying he had been looking forward to having Piazza as a close friend and regrets joining the fraternity.

“I will not just be a part of the crowd. I will step forward and put a stop to the behavior,” O’Brien told Marshall. “... Please take solace and know that Tim lives on in my future.”

O’Brien is one of at least 14 former fraternity members to be sentenced for charges filed after Piazza’s death. Former fraternity president Brendan Young and vice president Daniel Casey are the lone members who have not either pleaded guilty, been convicted or had charges dismissed.

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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