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Four enter not guilty plea in NIU fraternity drinking death

Published: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 5:28 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, April 25, 2014 10:22 a.m. CDT
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Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com Steven A. Libert (left), of Naperville, appeared in DeKalb County Court in Sycamore, Ill. on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 in connection to hazing charges related to Northern Illinois University David Bogenberger's death. Libert allegedly planned the unsanctioned Pi Kappa Alpha drinking party in November where freshman pledge David Bogenberger died.
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Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com Patrick W. Merrill, of DeKalb, formally pleaded not guilty to hazing charges Tuesday, May 28, 2013 in DeKalb County Court in Sycamore, Ill. Merrill was secretary of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity in November when freshman pledge David Bogenberger died during a pledge-related drinking party at the fraternity.
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Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com Omar Salameh, of DeKalb, formally pleaded not guilty to hazing charges Tuesday, May 28, 2013 in DeKalb County Court in Sycamore, Ill. Salameh was pledge adviser of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity in November when freshman pledge David Bogenberger died during a pledge-related drinking party at the fraternity.

SYCAMORE — Four of five Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity members accused of hazing a 19-year-old Northern Illinois University student who later died were arraigned and pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Alex M. Jandick, 21, of Naperville, the fraternity president; fraternity Vice President James P. Harvey, 21, of DeKalb; pledge adviser Omar Salameh, 22, of DeKalb; and Patrick W. Merrill, 20, of DeKalb, pleaded not guilty to felony and misdemeanor hazing charges. They will next appear in court June 25.

If convicted of the felony charge, the men could be sentenced to probation or up to three years in prison.

Charges were filed against the Pi Kappa Alpha members after NIU student David Bogenberger was found dead Nov. 2 at the fraternity's house located at 1020 W. Hillcrest Drive.

Authorities said a toxicology report showed Bogenberger had a blood-alcohol content of 0.351 percent when he died. DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller ruled Bogenberger's death as accidental. He said the cause of death was "cardiac arrhythmia, with alcohol intoxication as a significant condition contributing to his death."

The fraternity hosted an unsanctioned party Nov. 1 for 18 pledges, including Bogenberger, authorities said. Bogenberger and the other pledges drank alcohol for about two hours while playing a game in which they were assigned "moms" and "dads" and asked a series of questions, authorities said.

Steven A. Libert, 21, of Naperville, was not arraigned Tuesday. Judge John McAdams said he had recused himself as there was a conflict of interest. His wife is an attorney who has a professional working relationship with Richard A. Kayne. Libert's attorney, Joshua Dieden works for Richard A. Kayne and Associates.

McAdams said Libert would have his case reassigned by Judge Robbin Stuckert on June 25.

Harvey's attorney, J. Brick Van Der Snick, said there are severe problems with the language of the statute.

"The statute itself as written is too broad and unconstitutional," Van Der Snick said.

Bogenberger's family filed a lawsuit Feb. 14 seeking more than $100,000 in damages from the national and local Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. The lawsuit names more than 20 students.

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