ShareThis Page
Pennsylvania

2nd man pleads guilty in Penn State frat death

| Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018, 7:51 p.m.

BELLEFONTE — A former Penn State fraternity member pleaded guilty Wednesday to two misdemeanor charges filed as a result of a pledge’s death after a night of drinking and hazing last year.

Joseph G. Ems Jr. pleaded guilty to hazing and an alcohol offense and was scheduled for sentencing Sept. 27.

Ems was charged as a result of the investigation into the death of Tim Piazza, 19, of Lebanon, N.J., who suffered severe head and abdominal injuries in February 2017, the night he consumed a dangerous amount of alcohol at the Beta Theta Pi house.

Ems, 22, of Philadelphia, is the second member of the now-closed fraternity to plead guilty. Both charges against him relate to his behavior with another pledge, not Piazza.

The other, Ryan Burke, was sentenced last week to house arrest and probation for four counts of hazing and five alcohol-related violations.

Messages seeking comment from the attorney general’s office were not immediately returned. Ems’ lawyer declined to comment.

Ems originally was charged in May 2017 with a single count of reckless endangerment. A grand jury report claimed he was one of four people to strap onto Piazza a backpack loaded with books to prevent him from rolling over. That grand jury report also alleged that Ems participated, with two others, in picking up Piazza from the floor in and slamming him onto a couch.

After a marathon preliminary hearing, a district judge dismissed that charge.

Prosecutors cited security video footage recovered by the FBI in charging him with new allegations in November.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me