Ex-Penn State brotherhood member sentenced to house arrest, probation in pledge’s death

Ryan Burke, left, was convicted in the case related to the death of the 19-year-old fraternity pledge Timothy Piazza at Penn State University.

(Centre Daily Times via AP, File)

A former Penn State University fraternity brother, was on Tuesday sentenced to three months house arrest and 27 months of probation in connection with the death of a pledge who was fatally injured during a night of heavy drinking.

Ryan Burke, 21, of Scranton, was the first of more than 20 suspects to plead guilty to four counts of hazing, and five alcohol violations in the death of engineering student Tim Piazza in February 2017.

Piazza, a sophomore of Lebanon, New Jersey, drank a dangerous amount of alcohol and suffered fatal head and abdominal injuries in a series of waterfalls during a party by the now-closed-Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

Tim Piazza, a second-year engineering student at Penn State, died after drinking a dangerous amount of alcohol and suffered fatal head and abdominal injuries in a series of waterfalls during a celebration by Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

(AP )

Court documents say Burke was an active participant in the bid acceptance night events in the brotherhood, including the provision of alcohol to the Piazza, and others who had just signed up as promises.


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Burke was the rush chairman and is responsible for recruiting new members. A prosecution sentencing memo filed last week, said Burke, a row of the pledges in a single file and marched them to the basement, “where the alcohol-fueled hazing would come.”

The memo says Burke ran around in the basement with a bottle of vodka for the buildings in the one hand, the supply of the Piazza, and the three others with vodka about a 10-minute period. The hazing counts, and four of the five alcohol violations relate to the events. Burke also pleaded guilty to underage drinking.

After the Piazza fell down the basement stairs and had to be transported to a first floor of a bank, Burke “appeared indifferent,” prosecutors wrote.


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“He is seen playfully hoisting a girl over his shoulder, jumping on the couch next to Piazza, and then rolling over and on the top of the Piazza, he is getting up for the exit of the room. He leaves the Piazza to be dealt with by others,” according to the sentencing memo.

More than 20 other members face trial in February.

Fox News’ Michelle Chavez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang a Reporter for Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

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