By David DeKok
HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - Fourteen more former fraternity members pleaded guilty to reduced charges and were sentenced to probation for the 2013 hazing death of a New York college freshman on Wednesday, a day after 15 men entered similar plea bargains in the case.
Altogether, 36 former members of Pi Delta Psi, an Asian-American cultural fraternity at Baruch College in Manhattan, were charged in the death of Chun “Michael” Deng, 19. He died from head injuries suffered during a fraternity hazing initiation on Dec. 8, 2013 at a rented home in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.
On Wednesday, 14 defendants pleaded guilty in Monroe County Court of Common Pleas in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, to misdemeanor charges including hindering apprehension, simple assault, hazing, and conspiracy, said Assistant Monroe County District Attorney Kimberly Metzger.
Judge Margherita Patti-Worthington sentenced all 14 to probation, with former national fraternity president Andy Meng given the harshest punishment of 36 months probation. Meng is the brother of U.S. Representative Grace Meng of Queens.
In all of the plea bargains reached on Tuesday and Wednesday, the defendants pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, reduced from felony crimes such as hindering apprehension.
Defense lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The toughest sentence in the case so far was given to fellow fraternity member, Ka-Wing Yuen, who pleaded guilty to similar offenses last January and was sentenced to 5 years of probation, 100 hours of community service, and a $100 fine. Yuen waited until the second day of his trial to plead guilty.
Next week, four other defendants face prison time when they are sentenced on Monday after pleading guilty to felony charges of voluntary manslaughter and hindering apprehension. State sentencing guidelines recommend 22 to 36 months behind bars.
The national fraternity faces fines and suspension from operating in Pennsylvania at a January sentencing. Prosecutors and defense lawyers said it was the first U.S. fraternity to be convicted in a pledge hazing death.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Andrew Hay)