Fraternity sentenced for 2013 hazing death of Michael Deng

By Mark Hallum

A judge in Pennsylvania issued a fine and a statewide ban to Pi Delta Psi, a national Asian-American fraternity, for the 2013 hazing death of Oakland Gardens resident Michael Deng, 18.

The frat, as a corporation, was sentenced to fines of $112,500 and was barred from conducting any business in Pennsylvania during a 10-year probation. The frat was also required to report its conviction within 60 days to universities where it has chapters.

The national Asian fraternity and 37 of its members were found guilty of manslaughter and numerous other charges in a seven-day jury trial in early December.

Deng, a student a Baruch College in Manhattan, was blindfolded and made to carry a heavy backpack loaded with dumbbells and other weights across frozen ground before being tackled and beaten in a hazing ritual known as the glass ceiling, according to the Monroe County, Pa., district attorney. The events occurred during a retreat at a rented house in Tunkhannock Township, Pa., in the Poconos.

“The case was very complex, involving dozens of defendants, including several charged with murder in the third degree,” District Attorney E. David Christine Jr. said. “In addition to the ‘natural-born’ defendants, the team, in a first of its kind prosecution, also charged the fraternity for its role in causing the victim’s death.”

Also sentenced on Monday were Kenny Kwan, 28, Charles Lai, 26, Raymond Lam, 23, and Sheldon Wong, 24, who all pleaded guilty in May 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.

Each received seven years probation on top of time already served.

Pi Delta Psi was acquitted of third-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter by Monroe County Courthouse’s President Judge Margherita Patti-Worthington.

Andy Meng, the younger brother of U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and the former head of the national fraternity, was one of the members charged. Meng faces lesser felony charges of hindering apprehension, hazing and criminal conspiracy, the DA’s office said.

According to police officials, Meng was called by fraternity members when Deng lost consciousness and advised them to hide items with fraternity logos, disguise all signs of hazing and remove Deng’s clothing.

Meng pleaded guilty on Nov. 29 to the charges and was sentenced to 36 months’ probation, a DA spokesman said.

“Through this verdict, the fraternity has been held responsible for the senseless and completely avoidable death of a strong, smart, promising college freshman,” Assistant DA Kimberly Metzger said after the December conviction.

According to the DA, Deng was taken down in a three-person spearhead tackle while carrying the weights strapped to him as a result of having disobeyed the members.

Deng slipped into unconsciousness and was carried into the house the frat had rented, where it delayed seeking medical attention for up to an hour and a half before driving him 40 minutes to the nearest hospital, the DA said.

Deng died the next morning with his mother by his side.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

More from Around New York