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2nd man pleads guilty to hazing in Penn St. frat death case

Written by The Associated Press | Aug 8, 2018 3:50 PM
beta-theta_pi_timothy_piazza_penn_state.jpg

FILE PHOTO: This Nov. 9, 2017, file photo shows Penn State University's shuttered Beta Theta Pi fraternity house in State College. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)


(Bellefonte) -- A former Penn State fraternity member pleaded guilty Wednesday to two misdemeanor charges filed as a result of a pledge's death after a night of drinking and hazing last year.

Joseph G. Ems Jr. pleaded guilty to hazing and an alcohol offense and was scheduled for sentencing Sept. 27.

Ems was charged as a result of the investigation into the death of Tim Piazza, 19, of Lebanon, New Jersey, who suffered severe head and abdominal injuries in February 2017, the night he consumed a dangerous amount of alcohol at the Beta Theta Pi house.

Ems, 22, of Philadelphia, is the second member of the now-closed fraternity to plead guilty. Both charges against him relate to his behavior with another pledge, not Piazza.

The other, Ryan Burke, was sentenced last week to house arrest and probation for four counts of hazing and five alcohol-related violations.

Messages seeking comment from the attorney general's office were not immediately returned. Ems' lawyer declined comment.

Ems originally was charged in May 2017 with a single count of reckless endangerment. A grand jury report claimed he was one of four people to strap onto Piazza a backpack loaded with books to prevent him from rolling over. That grand jury report also alleged that Ems participated, with two others, in picking up Piazza from the floor in and slamming him onto a couch.

After a marathon preliminary hearing, a district judge dismissed that charge.

Prosecutors cited security video footage recovered by the FBI in charging him with new allegations in November.

An earlier story appears below. 

(Bellefonte) -- A former Penn State fraternity member awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to charges filed following a pledge's death after a night of drinking and hazing last year.

Joseph Ems Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor hazing and furnishing alcohol to a minor.

He was charged as a result of the investigation into the death of 19-year-old Tim Piazza of Lebanon, New Jersey.

Piazza suffered severe head and abdominal injuries in February 2017, the night he consumed a dangerous amount of alcohol at the Beta Theta Pi house.

Ems, a 22-year-old who lives in Philadelphia, is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 27.

He's the second member of the now-closed fraternity to plead guilty.

The other was sentenced last week to house arrest and probation for four counts of hazing and five alcohol-related violations.

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