GENESEO, N.Y., Mar. 31, 2009
(AP) Three members of a banned fraternity were charged with criminally negligent homicide Tuesday for organizing a wild night of drinking that left a college sophomore dead of alcohol poisoning.
Arman Partamian, 19, a biology major from Queens, was found lying face-down on a mattress March 1 at a house run by an off-campus club known as the Orange Knights, or Pigs. Police said he had been drinking heavily for three days to gain membership in the club, located near the State University of New York at Geneseo in western New York.
Toxicology tests showed Partamian had a blood-alcohol level as high as 0.55 percent, nearly seven times the legal limit for driving.
Fellow students Alex Stucki, 20, and Daniel Wech, 21, were charged along with Devin McClain, 21, with hazing, unlawfully dealing with a child and criminally negligent homicide _ a felony that carries a sentence of up to four years in prison. They encouraged and directed Partamian to drink to such excess that he died as a direct result of alcohol poisoning, Livingston County prosecutor Thomas Moran said.
"We've learned that many of the off-campus fraternities have been operating illegal drinking venues," Moran said. "They call them 'open parties.' The students come, show their student ID, pay $5 and get a cup and then drink without limitation.
"I'm going to do everything I can to stop every one of those parties. If I have to start charging the fraternities with tax fraud, I'll do that."
The three pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Tuesday after being indicted by a grand jury. They were all released without bail. McClain lives in nearby Mount Morris and Wech is from Buffalo.
Stucki, of Rochester, also was charged with tampering with physical evidence. He is accused of removing and hiding a fraternity jersey from Partamian's body. He found him dead in an upstairs bedroom the morning after a Saturday drinking session that lasted for almost 12 hours, authorities said.
Investigators say Partamian was drinking heavily for two days at the club and another location in the village where some club members live. He resumed drinking beer, champagne and vodka the afternoon of Feb. 28 and was helped to bed late at night after he passed out, they said.
The fraternity was banished from campus in 1996 after two students were hospitalized for drinking. Nearly 5,600 students are enrolled at the school in Geneseo, 35 miles south of Rochester.
"I will intensify efforts," promised college president Christopher Dahl, "to eliminate any organization that has lost its affiliation with the college whose existence threatens the well-being of our students."