Beta Theta Pi Prelim

Former Beta Theta Phi brother Joseph Ems enters the Centre County Courthouse for a preliminary hearing in Bellefonte, Pa. on Monday, June 12, 2017. 

Former Beta Theta Pi brother Joseph Ems Jr. pleaded guilty to several charges on Wednesday, in the case surrounding the hazing death of Timothy Piazza.

Ems pleaded guilty to charges including one count of hazing and one count of unlawful acts relative to liquor, malt and brewed beverages and licenses that were bound over from preliminary hearings.

These charges are not related to actions toward Piazza, but another pledge — Thaddeus Lorenz.

Ems’ sentencing is scheduled for September 27 with an open plea at 9 a.m.

He accepted the charges at the Centre County Courthouse Annex with his attorney Jay Abom under Centre County Judge Brian Marshall.

The defense said Ems accepts the charges in regards to that he “tipped up the bottle [of vodka] to increase the amount of alcohol Lorenz was consuming” and was present and observed the drinking stations earlier in the evening.

Abom has not yet given statement following the proceedings.

Piazza died on Feb. 4, 2017, following a fall during a pledge event at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house.

“The guilty plea of Mr. Ems is another incremental step forward in the long legal process which has much ahead, including the upcoming February trial of the defendants who have not plead guilty,” Tom Kline, the Piazza family attorney, said.

Ems is the second former Beta Theta Pi fraternity member to plead guilty and accept charges in the hazing case.

Ryan Burke was the first to plead guilty and was sentenced on July 31 for charges surrounding the events of Piazza's death.

Burke, 21, received three months of home detention, 27 months probation and $27,000 in fines on the basis of nine charges — including four counts of hazing.


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