Four NIU students pleaded “not guilty” to felony hazing charges Tuesday. They’re charged in the death of freshman David Bogenberger, who died of alcohol poisoning in the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house last year.
Omar Salameh, Alexander Jandik, Patrick Merrill, and James Harvey were all officers in the fraternity, whose members are known as "Pikes." A fifth fraternity member, Steven Libert, will be assigned a new judge, after Judge John McAdams recused himself because his wife works with the Libert’s attorney. During their quick arraignments in the DeKalb County Courthouse, the students, who also face misdemeanor hazing charges, were informed by the judge that if found guilty of the felony charges, they face one to three years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.
Bogenberger was found unresponsive in a bed at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house near NIU’s DeKalb campus November 2nd, 2012. He was pronounced dead half an hour later. In a lawsuit filed by Bogenberger’s parents, fraternity members are said to have required excessive drinking during an initiation ritual. Bogenberger was a pledge to the fraternity.
Seventeen more Pikes have been charged with misdemeanor hazing in Bogenberger’s death. They’re also included in a lawsuit filed by the 19-year-old’s family. The civil suit includes all twenty-two fraternity members arrested in the hazing case, plus the national fraternity and sixteen NIU sorority members alleged to have helped serve alcohol during the pledge party.
The five facing felony charges will be back in court June 25th.