Hazing charges filed in NIU frat death

Pledge from Palatine died after excessive drinking

The leaders of a Northern Illinois University fraternity and 17 of its members are facing hazing charges related to the November death of a 19-year-old pledge from Palatine.

David Bogenberger had more than five times the legal limit of alcohol in his system, toxicology results revealed, when he was found unresponsive on Nov. 2 in the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity in DeKalb.

A DeKalb County coroner on Monday attributed the death to cardiac arrhythmia with alcohol intoxication a significant contributing condition.

As a result, 22 arrest warrants have been issued — five for felony hazing and 17 for misdemeanor hazing.

Authorities believe an unsanctioned event took place at the fraternity for its 19 pledges on the night of Nov. 1. In it, pledges rotated between several stations in the frat house and consumed large quantities of liquor, they said.

Of the five fraternity leaders facing felony charges, two are from Naperville: President Alexander M. Jandik, 21; and event planner Steven A. Libert, 20. Other fraternity leaders charged are Vice President James P. Harvey, 21, of DeKalb; Pledge Adviser Omar Salameh, 21, of DeKalb; and Secretary Patrick W. Merrill, 19, of DeKalb.

Arrest warrants were issued for an additional 17 fraternity members who authorities say provided alcohol. They are: Michael J. Phillip Jr., 20, of Western Springs; Thomas F. Costello, 20, of Munster, Ind.; David R. Sailor, 20, of Princeton; Alexander D. Renn, 19, of Naperville; Michael A. Marroquin, 20, of Roselle; Estevan A. Diaz, 22, of South Beloit; Hazel A. Vergaralope, 21, of DeKalb; Michael D. Pfest, 23, of Chicago; Andres Jiminez, Jr., 19, of Glendale Heights; Isaiah Lott, 19, of Cupertino, Calif.; Andrew W. Bouleanu, 21, of Skokie; Nicholas A. Sutor, 19, of DeKalb; Nelson A. Irizarry, 19, of DeKalb; Johnny P. Wallace, 20, of DeKalb; Daniel S. Post, 20, of DeKalb; Nsenzi Salasini, 20, of Mt. Prospect; Russ Coyner, 21, of DeKalb.

In a separate investigation conducted by the university, a total of 31 students are facing sanctions from the university as a result of the events that led up to Bogenberger's death.

On Nov. 1, the fraternity, known as the Pikes, hosted an unsanctioned initiation event for its 19 pledges. The event wasn't registered with its national chapter or the university, authorities said. At the event known as “parents night,” Greek dads and moms were assigned to the pledges. Dads are upperclassmen fraternity members, while moms are members of associated sororities. Officials say the pledges rotated between rooms of the frat house that night, were asked a series of questions and then were provided cups of vodka and other liquor to drink within a two-hour period.

Several other pledges reported getting sick and/or passing out from alcohol consumption that night, officials said.

University punishment ranges from probation to expulsion. That trial process has not yet begun.

The fraternity immediately lost its recognized student organization status. That status may be removed permanently.

Bogenberger's family pleaded for an end to hazing and alcohol-related deaths.

“We appeal to every college administrator and to every fraternity official to stop the hazing and initiation rituals that claimed David, and that have claimed so many other promising young people. No other family should endure what we are going through. Yet, we are losing these talented, beautiful and hopeful young people because of illegal drinking unrestrained by maturity and exacerbated by social pressure,” the family said.

Bogenberger's family also expressed compassion for the families of those facing charges.

“We also must acknowledge the concern we feel for the families of those charged today. The events of Nov. 1 and 2 unalterably changed the course of too many lives. And for what?

“We have no desire for revenge. Rather, we hope that some significant change will come from David's death. Alcohol poisoning claims far too many young, healthy lives. We must realize that young people can and do die in hazing rituals. Alcohol-involved hazing and initiation must end.”

An attorney representing the family, Peter R. Coladarci, said, “According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, some 1,800 college students, ages 18 to 24, die annually from alcohol-related unintentional injuries. This is a national health epidemic, which must be addressed.”

The university recently adopted the Bystander Intervention Education Program, an initiative that empowers students to report behavior and situations that could be problematic, said Paul Palian, NIU's director of media and public relations.

“We've been proactive in our approach in providing education and training-related to alcohol but also intervening and educating the Greek community,” Palian said. “We're always looking at updating ways to better reach out to students in this regard. It's something we review every year.”

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