By Mark Hallum
Five of the 37 indicted have now pleaded guilty in the death of a Baruch College student and Oakland Gardens man, Chun Hsien “Michael” Deng, 19, who died during a 2013 fraternity hazing ritual gone awry.
Kenny Kwan, 28, Charles Lai, 26, Raymond Lam, 23, and Sheldon Wong, 24, all pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter as accomplices and hindering apprehension for concealing or destroying evidence for a sentence reduced from murder on Monday, according to the Monroe County District Attorney.
The four men, originally charged with murder, follow their fraternity brother Ka Wing Yuen, 25, who was sentenced in January to five years probation, a $1,000 fine and 100 days of community service following a guilty plea to a felony charge of conspiracy to hinder apprehension by evidence tampering and a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to haze, according to the Pocono Record.
Deng was blindfolded and made to carry a heavy backpack across frozen ground before being tackled and beaten in a Baruch College Pi Delta Psi hazing ritual known as the “glass ceiling.” The incident occurred during a retreat in the at a rented home in Tunkhannock Township of the Poconos.
Former members of the fraternity — Charles Lai, Kenny Kwan, Raymond Lam, Daniel Li and Sheldon Wong — were charged with homicide, involuntary manslaughter and criminal conspiracy-related charges, according to police in September 2015. Five others were charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, hindering apprehension, hazing and criminal conspiracy.
The Monroe County grand jury also indicted another 27 young men on charges ranging from aggravated assault to criminal conspiracy.
Andy Meng, the younger brother of U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and head of the national fraternity, was one of the 27 members. Meng faces lesser felony charges of hindering apprehension, hazing and criminal conspiracy, police said.
Police officials said fraternity members had called Meng about the time Deng lost consciousness. They were told to hide or destroy any objects with logos indicating the fraternity, disguise all signs of hazing and to remove Deng’s clothing.
By the time the members called for medical attention for Deng, 90 minutes had already gone by from the time he was injured.
Dr. Wayne Ross, a forensic pathologist, who investigated the extent of Deng’s injuries, said the 19-year-old might have survived had the fraternity sought help immediately.
Ross said Deng had sustained “significant and severe” damage to the head, while his back had a large bruise showing where there had been repeated blunt force trauma which resulted in traumatic asphyxia. There was additional bruising on the thighs, possibly from restraint or impact.
Pi Delta Psi, an Asian-American fraternity with around 21 chapters at schools around the country, has been banned from the Baruch College following the incident.
Sentencing for Kwan, Lai, Lam and Wong is scheduled for Dec, 4, 2017 in the district court of Judge Richard Claypool.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall