22 ex-NIU ‘Pikes’ fraternity members avoid jail in hazing death of Palatine freshman

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Gary Bogenberger breaks down during his victim impact statement Friday, May 8, 2015 at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore, Ill. Five former Northern Illinois University fraternity members have been sentenced to community service and will pay fines in a hazing case involving the 2012 death of David Bogenberger. | Bob Chwedyk / Daily Herald via AP

SYCAMORE — In what authorities said was the largest hazing prosecution in U.S. history, 22 former Northern Illinois University fraternity members have been sentenced in the death of a freshman pledge from Palatine after a night of heavy drinking.

More than two years after 19-year-old David Bogenberger, a Palatine High School graduate, died at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house on Nov. 2, 2012, after an unsanctioned party, the 22 former fraternity members were convicted Friday and sentenced to community service and fines. None received prison time.

Authorities said Bogenberger and other pledges at the frat house drank vodka and other liquor, with several of them later telling the police they got sick or passed out because of the drinking.


David Bogenberger

A toxicology report found Bogenberger’s blood-alcohol level was 0.351 percent. A level of .08 percent is considered proof of drunk driving.

His father, Gary Bogenberger, told the defendants in court: “You planned an event that was abusive, humiliating, degrading and endangering for David and his fellow pledges. You didn’t care one iota for David’s or the other pledges’ well-being but, rather, only for your own self-gratification in seeing David demeaned and incapacitated to the point of death.”

David Bogernberger, who was one of three triplets, had pledged the Pikes frat because he “wanted to be friends with everybody” and also thought it would help provide business contacts after college, according to his family.

DeKalb County Judge Thomas Doherty found four of the former frat members guilty of reckless conduct, a misdemeanor. They were former fraternity president Alexender Jandick, 23, of Naperville; James Harvey, 23, of Northfield, who was the frat’s vice president; Steven Libert, 23, of Naperville; and Omar Salameh, 24, of Burbank, who was pledge adviser.

A fifth man, 22-year-old Patrick Merrill of Boston, who was the fraternity’s secretary, pleaded guilty to the same charge.

Doherty sentenced all five to do 100 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine.

The judge found 17 others guilty of misdemeanor hazing charges. Each was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and pay a $500 fine.

The NIU chapter of the fraternity was closed after Bogenberger’s death.

A lawsuit Bogenberger’s family filed against the fraternity claimed that a fraternity member moved Bogenberger to a bedroom after he became unconscious, rather than seeking medical attention.

A judge threw out that lawsuit in December, saying the family’s lawyer failed to prove the fraternity violated Illinois’ anti-hazing law by requiring Bogenberger to consume alcohol as a condition of being accepted as a member of the frat. The judge also said the fraternity members couldn’t be held responsible for not seeking medical attention after Bogenberger passed out.

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