By David DeKok
HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - Pennsylvania prosecutors will lay out their case on Friday against members of a fraternity at New York City's Baruch College who are charged in connection with the hazing death of a pledge at a rented house in the Pocono Mountains.
Chun “Michael” Deng, 19, of Oakland Park, New York, died of brain and other injuries inflicted in December 2013 during a pledging ritual known as the “glass ceiling,” police say. The student, blindfolded and wearing a 30-pound pack, was tackled repeatedly and slammed to the ground, they say.
The pack was supposed to represent the weight of Pi Delta Psi, which describes itself as an Asian-American cultural fraternity. The “glass ceiling” gauntlet is intended to re-enact the difficulties Asian-Americans experience in battling prejudice.
Nine of the 37 fraternity members charged in case will have preliminary hearings on Friday before Magisterial District Judge Richard Claypool in Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania.
The defendants, all from New York state, are Allen Wong, 24, of Queens; Danny Chen, 23, of Maspeth; Theodore Sung, 20, of Valley Stream; Christopher Ly, 22, of Woodhaven; Andy Meng, 30, of Bayside; Benny Yan, 21, of Manhattan; Allen Chen, 21, of Flushing; Grant Chen, 24, of Flushing; and Curtis Chung, 20, of Elmhurst.
Prosecutors will outline their case against them, and Claypool will decide whether there is enough evidence to advance the cases to Monroe County Court of Common Pleas in Stroudsburg.
None of this group, prosecutors say, took part in the actual assault on Deng, but they are alleged to have lied to the Pocono Mountain Regional Police or helped hide evidence. Each is charged with four felonies and one misdemeanor.
Meng, who was national president of Pi Delta Psi at the time, is charged with initiating the attempt to cover up the crimes with a phone call to fraternity members still at the house, which is about 96 miles west of New York City.
He allegedly told them to hide anything that would connect the crimes to the fraternity.
Twenty-eight other members of the fraternity, including five charged with third-degree murder and aggravated assault, will have preliminary hearings at later dates, prosecutors said.
(Reporting by David DeKok; Editing By Frank McGurty and Mohammad Zargham)