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Ex-frat members plead guilty in New York student’s hazing death

GENESEO, N.Y. – Two former members of a banned college fraternity at a western New York campus admitted yesterday they plied a student with so much beer, champagne and vodka during a three-day hazing that the young man died of alcohol poisoning.

Arman Partamian, 19, a biology sophomore from New York City, was found dead March 1 after drinking excessively to gain membership in the off-campus fraternity at State University of New York in Geneseo. His blood-alcohol level was 0.55 percent, nearly seven times the legal limit for driving.

Fellow student Alex Stucki, 21, who was later expelled, and Devin McClain, 22, who lost his job at a college cafeteria, pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide, a felony. Stucki, of Rochester, also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor tampering with evidence for removing a pledge T-shirt from Partamian after discovering his body in an upstairs bedroom at the frat house.

In return, the two were sentenced to four months of weekends in jail. Stucki must complete 500 hours of community service and McClain must complete 250.

If convicted after a trial, the pair could have drawn up to four years in prison.

Livingston County prosecutor Thomas Moran said he agreed to the plea deal because the defendants’ showed remorse and because Partamian’s parents wanted to be spared the anguish of a trial. As part of the plea deal, the prosecution dropped a misdemeanor hazing charge.

‘The four months of weekends, is it light? It probably is,’ Moran said. ‘But take everything into the totality of the circumstances – the parents’ wishes, the fact both defendants are branded for a lifetime (as felons) – mitigates what I think might be perceived as a little light on the jail time.’

Another student, Daniel Wech, 21, of Buffalo, pleaded guilty last month to unlawfully dealing with a child for allowing alcohol to be served to Partamian. He was sentenced to three months of weekends in jail.

Investigators say Partamian was one of three pledges who drank heavily for two days at the fraternity, known as the Orange Knights, and at another location in the village where some club members live. They resumed drinking the afternoon of Feb. 28 and Partamian was helped to bed late at night by Stucki after he passed out.

‘I’m extremely sorry. … I never thought that would happen,’ Stucki told the judge.

Stucki’s lawyer, Lawrence Andolina, told reporters afterward: ‘He feels terrible. He lost a friend.’

McClain also apologized and offered his condolences to the family.

The prosecutor said the two probably learned their lesson.

‘Obviously, no one intended Arman to die,’ Moran said. ‘This was people drinking and not thinking, and we need to get the message across that out-of-control drinking can lead to tragic, tragic circumstances.’

The fraternity, also called the Pigs, was banished from campus in 1996 after two students were hospitalized for drinking. It has since been dissolved. Nearly 5,600 students are enrolled at the school in Geneseo, 35 miles south of Rochester.

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