(ATHENS, OH) — Two Ohio University students pleaded guilty Thursday for their involvement in the hazing death of an 18-year-old freshman, prosecutors said.
Dominic A. Figliola, 21, and Cullen Willi McLaughlin, 21, both appeared before a judge to enter their pleas in the death of Collin Wiant, who died of asphyxiation from nitrous oxide ingestion on Nov. 12, 2018, according to a statement from Athens County Prosecuting Attorney Keller Blackburn.
Figliola pleaded guilty to hazing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, while McLaughlin pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of LSD, a fifth-degree felony, according to the statement.
A third person, Zachary Herskovitz, 22, of Coraopolis, PA, also appeared in court and pleaded guilty to permitting drug abuse, a felony of the fifth degree. Herkovitz was convicted of hazing, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, and ordered to complete one year of non-reporting probation and pay a fine of $250.
Neither were hit with jail time. They will instead have to successfully complete the Prosecutor’s Office Athens County Empowerment Program.
Figliola was also ordered to complete a year of probation.
Blackburn said that both students were part of a “cycle of hazing that has existed within Ohio University Sigma Pi fraternity for years.”
Wiant was a freshman at the university and had been selected as a pledge two months before he died, according to a wrongful death suit filed by his family in February against the fraternity and 10 individuals.
The teenager died inside a Sigma Pi Epsilon annex house in Athens, Ohio, where he was allegedly beaten with a belt, pelted with eggs, deprived of sleep and forced to take drugs and drink a gallon of alcohol in an hour, the lawsuit alleged.
Seven other people were also arrested in his death and indicted on a range of charges, including involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, trafficking and tampering with evidence.
Figliola and McLaughlin will testify against those defendants as part of their guilty plea, according to prosecutors.
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