Western Springs Man Among 22 Charged in NIU Freshman's Hazing Death

Michael J. Phillip Jr. is among 22 fraternity members being charged with hazing crimes after a pledge died due to excessive drinking, DeKalb police said.

A Northern Illinois University student from Western Springs is among 22 fraternity members who have been charged with hazing crimes after a freshman pledge died due to excessive drinking last month, the DeKalb Police Department said in a release.

Michael J. Phillip Jr., 21, is one of 17 members facing a misdemeanor hazing charge in the death. Five other members are facing felony charges.

See also: NIU Freshman From Palatine Found Dead

NIU freshman David Bogenberger was found unresponsive on the morning of Nov. 2 at the Pike fraternity house, 1020 W. Hillcrest in DeKalb. Bogenberger had a blood-alcohol content of .351 at the time of his death; "a highly-elevated blood alcohol content about five times the legal limit," according to the DeKalb County Coroner’s office.

Police said Bogenberger, 19, had been taking part in an unsanctioned Pi Kappa Alpha event for the fraternity's 19 pledges on the evening of Nov. 1.  

Fraternity leaders did not officially register the event, known as "Parent's Night," with the national chapter or NIU, according to DeKalb police. The event involves the assignment of “Greek dads and moms” to student pledges.  

According to police, "Greek dads" are upperclassmen in the fraternity that serve as mentors to the pledges, while "Greek moms" are members of associated sororities. On Nov. 1, pledges went from room to room in the fraternity house while being asked a series of questions. Pledges were then provided cups of vodka and other liquor to drink, the release said.

"This resulted in the pledges drinking a large quantity of alcohol in about a two-hour time period," police said in a release.  

A number of other fraternity pledges reported getting sick due to excessive drinking that night, police said.

Fraternity president Alexander M. Jandik, 21, of Naperville; event planner Steven A. Libert, 20, of Naperville; vice president James P. Harvey, 21, of DeKalb; secretary Patrick W. Merrill, 19, of DeKalb and pledge advisor Omar Salameh, 21, of DeKalb all face Class 4 felony hazing charges, according to DeKalb police. 

Arrest warrants for 17 other fraternity members, including Phillip, Jr., were issued for misdemeanor hazing, police said. 

"Northern Illinois University has clear and distinct policies regarding fraternity and sorority social events," according to NIU. "Violations of NIU’s policies result in university sanctions ranging from a reprimand to expulsion for students who are found to have violated NIU’s Code of Community & Student Standards & Conduct."

Attorney Peter R. Coladarci, who represents the Bogenberger family, said the issue of alcohol-related deaths in colleges across the country needs to be addressed.

“According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, some 1,800 college students, ages 18 to 24, die annually from alcohol-related unintentional injuries," Coladarci said in a statement. "This is a national health epidemic, which must be addressed.” 

David's parents, Gary and Ruth, as well as his siblings also issued a statement regarding his death. 

“We are trying to understand the reality of our David’s death. It is almost impossible for us to accept that David is gone at the age of 19; that our future does not include his excitement at learning and growing; becoming a man; marrying and having children; that these events will never happen."

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Scott Garelli December 20, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Whatever Teri. I am guessing you thought FOR SURE the Duke LaCrosse team were guilty of rape back a few years go too. Truth of the matter is you know very little of the details. Was he actually forced to drink? No. To your argument we better just arresting all sorts of college kids everywhere. Dorm rooms, etc. because everyone is liable for everyone else. You know, McDonalds made me fat, and it's the bar's fault I drank too much and got in my car and killed someone sort of argument. Plenty of kids(minors) are being charged with class 4 felonies and they very well did absolutely nothing wrong. Proving, beyond a resonable, they forced him to drink is going to be very difficult. What proof do they have? How do we know he was not already drunk by the time he got there? Truth of the matter is you don't know and neither do I. Real nice Monday morning quarterbacking you are doing. I am sure you have never done anything wrong in your life. You must be Mary Poppins.
Nancy December 21, 2012 at 12:01 AM
This was a horrible tragedy. Why doesn't everyone take a step back and not make it about themselves. Let's allow the proper authorites directly involved take care of this. And instead a being cruel and dismissive to each other, why don't we all mourn the loss of a 19 year child. And hold our children a little tighter.
Teri D. Springer December 21, 2012 at 12:38 AM
You sure like to throw around the insults and now, assumptions. Just for your piece of mind, I was quite sure the Duke LaCrosse team was innocent and assumed that given no proof was provided to the contrary. In this case we know certain facts: 1) there was a hazing (illegal in itself) party at this frat. 2) Alcohol was consumed in LARGE quantities (5 times the legal limit requires a pretty good amount of alcohol, consumed over a short period of time); 3) the person who died was a minor. 4) the frat president, and many others present at the party were legally adults. 5) the drinking "game" was presided over by members of the frat. I have already acknowledged the fact that the young man who died is partially at fault. And please, show me where I said anyone FORCED him to drink??? If you had actually READ what I wrote you would see that, under the law, no one has to force him, they just have to be there and be legally adults to be culpable. I guess you missed that part. I'm not just saying this to be a "Mary Poppins." I'm saying this with a knowledge of the LAW. And, it doesn't matter if he was drunk when he arrived...under the Inn Keepers act ANYONE who furnished him with alcohol at ANY point of the night, can be prosecuted. You just don't get it, do you? If my son had a party in my basement and I didn't know minors were drinking, I'd still be breaking the law. Also, never said I was an angel. What I have done is not germain here.
fhc June 25, 2013 at 02:12 AM
I am happy this kid was charged. Social pressure can be even more severe than being physically forced to consume alcohol. And, we don't really know that he wasn't forced to drink, do we, since we weren't present. Today, kids never think of the unintended consequences. It's live for the moment. They emulate reality tv "stars". Nauseating. And so is Mr. Garelli with his lame point of view.


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