Former Penn State Frat Member Sentenced

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BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- A former Penn State fraternity member learned his fate for a hazing death Tuesday afternoon.

Ryan Burke, 21, of Scranton, was sentenced to 27 months probation and three months of house arrest.  Burke also faces 100 hours of community service and thousands of dollars in fines.

Burke admitted to giving alcohol to Timothy Piazza last year.

Piazza, 19, died after a night of heavy drinking and several falls.

Burke was the first of more than 20 members of Beta Theta Pi to plead guilty to charges.

Burke admitted to hazing Piazza and giving him alcohol the night Piazza fell.

In court, Piazza's parents gave moving testimony when talking about the loss of her son. Evelyn Piazza told the court, "This is hell. I'm still not on speaking terms with God."

Piazza's father Jim told the court he can no longer look at pictures of Timothy or go into this son's bedroom.

Piazza also said he was glad Burke pleaded guilty to hazing but was unsure of his sincerity.

Burke was apologetic, telling the court he accepts responsibility.

"We couldn't let the emotion of this case obscure the critical facts and the facts are that Mr. Burke is an all-American kid and Mr. Piazza was the all-American kid and this was a celebration and a rite of passage. We understand there will be changes going forward with how fraternities conduct themselves and the bid acceptance process," said Burke's attorney Philip Masorti.

Over a dozen other former fraternity members are set to be back in court for trial later this year.


  • Jess (@Jess_and_Sophie)

    You people are missing the point. Of course Piazza was responsible for his own actions of drinking WAY WAY beyond what’s safe. Absolutely horrific judgment on his part., pure stupidity. Forget pledging if this is what they ask you to do. HOWEVER, the point is that after this kid was clearly unconscious from the fall, and then progressively in distress and needing of medical assistance, they all did NOTHING. In fact, several of them tried to actively cover it up. This sentence is a joke for THAT reason.

  • Anne Slabinski

    He should be made to work in a morgue, the ER, or someplace where he can see long term effects of alcoholism. His actions caused the death of another young man. Ryan Burke can continue to live his life and (hopefully learn from his mistakes), Timothy Piazza doesn’t get that chance.

  • lickerblisters

    When I was 19 I was an adult who was responsible for my own actions. If my friends were ever held responsible for my bad decisions, I would have had a lot of friends facing prosecution.

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