MSU Fraternity Members Face Criminal Charges In Pledge’s Death
Three members of the Pi Alpha Phi fraternity at Michigan State are facing felony charges after a pledge died last November.
Phat Nguyen Died Of Alcohol Poisoning At Frat Welcome Event
Nguyen was found passed out in the basement of the fraternity house with three others, both of whom recovered from the incident which happened on November 20, 2021. He died later after being transported to Sparrow Hospital.
Frat members being charged in his death are Ethan Tin Cao, Andrew Hoang Nguyen, and Hoang John Huu Pham. They are facing misdemeanor counts of hazing resulting in physical injury and one felony count of hazing resulting in death.
The event where Phat Nguyen died was referred to as a "crossing party" in which the fraternity joined to celebrate the new pledges being made official members of the group.
The Charges Are The First In Ingham County Under A New State Law
The anti-hazing law was passed in 2004, and it is believed the three Pi Alpha Phi members are the first to be charged for violating the law in Ingham County.
According to the Michigan Penal Code, the law, known as 'Garrett's Law, states:
Hazing means an intentional, knowing, or reckless act by a person acting alone or acting with others that is directed against an individual and that the person knew or should have known endangers the physical health or safety of the individual, and that is done for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, participating in, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization.
Pi Alpha Phi fraternity was suspended and then had its charter revoked by MSU immediately following the incident.
Witnesses Say The Four Were Passed Out And Covered In Urine And Vomit
According to the East Lansing Police, videos show Cao pouring alcohol into the victim's mouths and having them continue drinking until they were incapacitated. At that point, other fraternity members were encouraged to smack the victims and draw on them using Sharpie pens.
The other two were charged for allowing the hazing to continue and not using their authority as leaders of the frat to stop the activity.
Edwar Zeineh, Cao's lawyer, told the Detroit Free Press his client entered a not guilty plea.
We always are conscientious of the facts and circumstances surrounding a case, and namely here, we have a young person who died. But I am in no position (to say) that my client was in any way, shape or form, the cause of death. At this stage, I look at these charges and say: these are charges that have to be vigorously defended against.