Naper residents charged in NIU hazing death
By Dan Rozek and Mitch Dudek Sun-Times Media December 18, 2012 10:24AM
Updated: January 20, 2013 6:16AM
Criminal hazing charges have been filed against 22 students at Northern Illinois University, including three from Naperville, following the alcohol-related death of a freshman at a fraternity initiation event.
The charges announced Monday come about six weeks after David Bogenberger, 19, was found dead at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house in DeKalb.
Tests done after his Nov. 2 death show Bogenberger, of Palatine, had a blood-alcohol level more than four times the .08 limit at which a driver is legally considered drunk. An autopsy concluded that he died of heart arrythmia, but it listed alcohol intoxication as “a significant condition” that contributed to his death.
Five student leaders of the now-suspended fraternity — including two from Naperville — face felony hazing charges that could send them to prison for up to three years.
The five students charged with felonies are fraternity president Alexander M. Jandick, 21, of Naperville; vice president James Harvey, 21, of DeKalb; pledge adviser Omar Salameh, 21, of DeKalb; chapter secretary Patrick Merrill, 19, of DeKalb, and event planner Steven Libert, 20, of Naperville.
Jandick surrendered about 6:04 p.m. Monday at the Naperville police station and was released on bond. He did not return a message left Tuesday on his telephone that sought comment on the matter.
The five face felony charges for allegedly providing alcohol to underage pledges and creating a situation “where the pledges felt compelled to consume alcohol,” authorities allege.
Arrest warrants for Class A misdemeanor hazing were issued for 17 further members of the fraternity, who are the individuals that actively participated in the provision of alcohol in the rooms that the pledges visited, police said. One of those charged with a misdemeanor is Alexander D. Renn, 19, of Naperville.
The misdemeanors carry a maximum one-year jail sentence, DeKalb County prosecutors and DeKalb Police said in a statement.
Bogenberger’s family on Monday released an emotional appeal asking college and fraternity officials to end “the hazing and initiation rituals” that sometimes prove deadly.
“No other family should endure what we are going through.
“Yet we are losing these talented, beautiful and hopeful young people because of illegal drinking unrestrained by maturity and exacerbated by social pressure,” his parents, Gary and Ruth, along with two siblings, said in a written statement.
The evening before he died, Bogenberger had taken part in a “Parents Night” pledging event at the fraternity, authorities said.
Bogenberger and other pledges were shuttled between several rooms in the fraternity, asked a series of questions, then given vodka and other liquor, authorities alleged.
“This resulted in the pledges drinking a large quantity of alcohol” during a two-hour span, officials said in their statement.
Several other pledges who took part in the initiation either became ill or passed out because of the amount of alcohol they drank, police and prosecutors alleged.
Bogenberger’s relatives are still struggling to come to terms with his sudden death.
“They are coping. Every day is emotional,” said the family’s attorney, Peter Coladarci.
David Bogenberger was following in his father’s footsteps by attending NIU, though his dad didn’t belong to a fraternity.
David Bogenberger wanted to join Pi Kappa Alpha. “He liked being liked and accepted. He was gregarious,” Coladarci said.
NIU officials temporarily suspended the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity after Bogenberger died, saying the pledge event was unsanctioned.
On Monday, school officials said they have filed judicial charges against 31 students who belong to the fraternity for violating campus rules.
Punishments could include expulsion for the students and permanent removal of the fraternity, NIU spokesman Paul Palian said.
“There are rules to be followed by students and student organizations,” Palian said. “It appears in this case those rules and standards of conduct weren’t followed.”
An examination of court documents indicated Jandick, Libert and Renn have no criminal records in DuPage County, Kane County or Will County.
Naperville police in July 2011 ticketed Libert for consumption of alcohol by any person under the age of 21, according to DuPage County court records.
That case was dismissed in January, court records showed.
Bill Bird contributed
to this report.