A national Asian-American fraternity has been found guilty of criminal charges stemming from the 2013 hazing death of a college student in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.
Pi Delta Psi Inc. was convicted Tuesday of five felonies and two misdemeanors, including aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter, in the death of Chun Hsien "Michael" Deng, according to Kimberly A. Metzger, a prosecutor with the Monroe County Office of the District Attorney.
The jury acquitted the fraternity on charges of third-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter after deliberating for two and a half hours, she said.
“Through this verdict, the fraternity has been held responsible for the senseless and completely avoidable death of a strong, smart, promising college freshman,” Metzger said in an email.
Deng, a 18-year-old at Baruch College in Manhattan, was pledging to Pi Delta Psi when he died during a December 2013 retreat at a rented house in the Poconos, around 96 miles west of New York City.
Blindfolded and wearing a backpack, Deng was forced to walk in the backyard in the early morning hours through a line of fraternity members who allegedly pushed, shoved, and tackled him in an attempt to bring him down, court records show.
The hazing was part of a violent ritual known as the "glass ceiling."
Deng fell several times and suffered multiple blows to his body, including his head, according to a forensic pathologist, court documents state. A grand jury presentment said he was brought into the living room, but wasn’t driven to a hospital for at least an hour.
An autopsy showed Deng died of complications of traumatic brain injury, and the delay in treatment, the forensic pathologist said, significantly contributed to his death, according to court documents.
Metzger said the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania plans to ask for the maximum fine on each guilty count. It will also seek to prohibit Pi Delta Psi from doing business in Pennsylvania, including having any chapters or colonies on any college campus, she said.
A sentencing date had not yet been scheduled, according to Metzger.
Pi Delta Psi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The guilty verdict comes as four Pi Delta Psi members are expected to be sentenced in early December. Kenny Kwan, 28; Charles Lai, 26; Raymond Lam, 23; and Sheldon Wong, 24 pleaded guilty in May to manslaughter as accomplices and hindering apprehension in connection with Deng’s death.
The men face 22 to 36 months in prison, NBC New York has reported.
In January, fraternity member Ka-Wing Yuen was the first of 37 individual defendants sentenced in the case. Yuen, 25, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to hinder apprehension by evidence tampering, a third-degree felony, and conspiracy to commit hazing, a misdemeanor.
He was given five years probation, ordered to complete 100 hours of community service, and pay a $1,000 fine, Metzger said at the time.
Cases are still pending against the remaining defendants.
Deng’s family has also filed a lawsuit against the fraternity.
CORRECTION (Nov. 22, 2017, 7:26 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated Michael Deng's age at the time he pledged Pi Delta Psi. He was 18, not 19.