Four to plead guilty in Baruch College frat hazing death in Pennsylvania

Reuters News
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Posted: May 15, 2017 6:11 AM

(Reuters) - Four defendants are due to enter guilty pleas on Monday in the 2013 fraternity hazing death of a Baruch College student in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains.

Court documents showed that Sheldon Wong, 24, Charles Lai, 26, Kenny Kwan, 28, and Raymond Lam, 23, all ex-members of Pi Delta Psi, an Asian-American cultural fraternity at Baruch College in Manhattan, were due to plead guilty to charges in Monroe County Court of Common Pleas in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

The four defendants, all from Queens, New York, are charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the December 2013 death of Chun "Michael" Deng, 19, who was seeking membership in, or "pledging," the fraternity.

They were among 37 fraternity members who were arrested soon after Deng, also of Queens, died of head injuries received in a pledging ritual known as "the glass ceiling."

In it, Deng and other pledges were forced to walk blindfolded, carrying a 30 pound (14 kg) backpack, through a line of fraternity members, who shoved them and threw them to the snow-covered ground, police said.

The violent ritual took place at a rented home in the Pocono Mountain region of Pennsylvania about 96 miles (155 km) west of New York City, where Baruch College's campus is located.

Deng, a nationally competitive handball player, was the only child of his China-born parents.

Fraternity members were accused of waiting several hours to take Deng to a hospital while they organized a cover-up, prosecutors said.

In November, Wong reached a $300,000 settlement in a civil suit brought by the victim’s parents, Mary Liu Deng and Qing Yuan Deng. He was the first of is the first of eight people sued by Deng's family to settle. Douglas Fierberg, the lawyer in Washington who is handling the civil suits, said no other settlements have been reached.

(Reporting by David DeKok in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Tom Brown)