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Ex-Ohio University fraternity president pleads guilty to hazing and drug charges in death of pledge

The former president of the now-defunct Sigma Pi fraternity at Ohio University has pleaded guilty to drug and hazing charges in relation to the November 2018 death of freshman Colin Wiant.

Elijah R. Wahib, 22, from Cleveland, entered a guilty plea to two counts of felony obstruction of justice, felony permitting drug use, and two counts of misdemeanor hazing on Tuesday morning, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

Prosecutors said that during his time as president of the fraternity, Wahib allowed members to haze pledges – including forcing them to drink hot sauce and exercise – as well as permitting drug use to take place at Sigma Pi’s unofficial, off-campus house, at 45 Mill St. in Athens.

Following Wiant’s death, a search of the premises yielded cocaine, Xanax, ecstasy and marijuana, prosecutors said. 

Wahib also instructed fraternity members to not provide any information to Ohio University investigators probing the circumstances surrounding Wiant’s death.

Elijah R. Wahib (Pictured in November), 22, from Cleveland, entered a guilty plea to two counts of felony obstruction of justice, felony permitting drug use, and two counts of misdemeanor hazing on Tuesday morning

The charges were levelled against Wahib in relation to the November 2018 death of freshman Colin Wiant (above), who died of asphyxiation after ingesting nitrous oxide

The charges were levelled against Wahib in relation to the November 2018 death of freshman Colin Wiant (above), who died of asphyxiation after ingesting nitrous oxide

Wahib was sentenced by Athens County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Lang via Zoom conference on Tuesday and ordered to serve 31 days in jail for the misdemeanours and to participate in a drug and alcohol diversion program for the felony charges.

Following Tuesday morning’s hearing, Wahib became the fifth member of the Sigma Pi fraternity to plead guilty to charges relating to the death of Wiant.

Wiant’s parents, Kathleen and Wade Wiant, filed a lawsuit against Sigma Pi last year after a coroner ruled that their son, from the Columbus suburb of Dublin, died of asphyxiation after ingesting nitrous oxide. 

It is alleged members of Sigma Pi allegedly forced him to ingest nitrous oxide from canisters while doing ‘whippets’ inside their fraternity house on November 11, 2018.

Whippets refer to the act of huffing nitrous oxide from canisters, like whipped cream cans, to receive a quick high.

The lawsuit, filed in Athens County Court last February, also claimed the teen was beaten with a belt, pelted with eggs, deprived of sleep, and forced to drink a gallon of alcohol in an hour, as part of his first year initiation.

He was also forced to consume a toxic cocktail of cocaine, marijuana, Adderall and Xanax, according to his parents. 

Wiant ominously told a friend that he knew he was going to be hazed by fraternity members on the night of his death, the suit outlined.

Wiant was found unresponsive the next morning and local authorities were called. Wiant was taken to the OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital in Athens, where he was later pronounced dead. 

Wahib was sentenced by Athens County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Lang via Zoom conference on Tuesday and ordered to serve 31 days in jail for the misdemeanours and to participate in a drug and alcohol diversion program for the felony charges

Wahib was sentenced by Athens County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Lang via Zoom conference on Tuesday and ordered to serve 31 days in jail for the misdemeanours and to participate in a drug and alcohol diversion program for the felony charges

Wiant’s parents, Kathleen and Wade Wiant, sued Sigma Pi last year, after a coroner ruled that their son, from the Columbus suburb of Dublin, died of asphyxiation after ingesting nitrous oxide

Wiant’s parents, Kathleen and Wade Wiant, sued Sigma Pi last year, after a coroner ruled that their son, from the Columbus suburb of Dublin, died of asphyxiation after ingesting nitrous oxide

The family also say their son was required to be ‘on call’ at all hours of the day for other Sigma Pi members, which contributed to an sharp decline in his academic performance and mental health.

The Sigma Pi fraternity was ordered to shut down immediately in the wake of Wiant’s tragic death.

In total, nine members of Sigma Pi have been charged since. Five have now entered guilty pleas for varying charges, while four criminal cases are still pending.

Former OU student Saxon Angell-Perez, 22, of Upper Arlington, pleaded guilty in May to felony permitting drug abuse, felony cocaine possession and misdemeanor hazing charges.

Perez’s plea followed that of 21-year-old Dominic Figliola, of Athens, who pleaded guilty in February to charges of drug possession, a misdemeanor charge of hazing and failure to comply with underage alcohol laws.

Cullen W. McLaughlin, 20, of Pennsylvania pleaded guilty the same day to two felony counts of LSD possession.

Zachary Herskovitz, 22, also of Pennsylvania, previously pleaded guilty to a felony charge of permitting drug abuse and a misdemeanor hazing charge. He was sentenced to a diversion program and one year of non-reporting probation.

Perez, Figliola, Herskovitz and McLaughlin did not receive jail time, but all must complete the diversion program run by the Athens County prosecutor’s office, the Dispatch reported. 

A lawsuit, filed in Athens County Court by Wade and Kathleen (seen right) last February, also claimed the teen was beaten with a belt, pelted with eggs, deprived of sleep, and forced to drink a gallon of alcohol in an hour, as part of his first year initiation

A lawsuit, filed in Athens County Court by Wade and Kathleen (seen right) last February, also claimed the teen was beaten with a belt, pelted with eggs, deprived of sleep, and forced to drink a gallon of alcohol in an hour, as part of his first year initiation

Former OU student Saxon Angell-Perez, 22, of Upper Arlington, pleaded guilty in May to felony permitting drug abuse, felony cocaine possession and misdemeanor hazing charges

Perez’s plea followed that of 21-year-old Dominic Figliola, of Athens, who pleaded guilty in February to charges of drug possession, a misdemeanor charge of hazing and failure to comply with underage alcohol laws

Former OU student Saxon Angell-Perez (left), 22, of Upper Arlington, pleaded guilty in May to felony permitting drug abuse, felony cocaine possession and misdemeanor hazing charges. Perez’s plea followed that of 21-year-old Dominic Figliola (right), of Athens, who pleaded guilty in February to charges of drug possession, a misdemeanor charge of hazing and failure to comply with underage alcohol laws.

Cullen W. McLaughlin, 20, of Pennsylvania pleaded guilty the same day to two felony counts of LSD possession

Zachary Herskovitz, 22, also of Pennsylvania, previously pleaded guilty to a felony charge of permitting drug abuse and a misdemeanor hazing charge. He was sentenced to a diversion program and one year of non-reporting probation.

Cullen W. McLaughlin (left), 20, of Pennsylvania pleaded guilty the same day to two felony counts of LSD possession. Zachary Herskovitz (right), 22, also of Pennsylvania, previously pleaded guilty to a felony charge of permitting drug abuse and a misdemeanor hazing charge. He was sentenced to a diversion program and one year of non-reporting probation.

As part of their pleas, the four men also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the remaining cases against their former fraternity brothers, Joshua Androsac, 20; Corbin Gustafson, 22; James Dylan Wanke, 25; and Stephan Lewis, 27. 

Androsac, of Ohio, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, permitting drug abuse, hazing and two counts of trafficking in harmful intoxicants.

Gustafson, from Pennsylvania, has been charged with reckless homicide.

Wanke is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of trafficking in harmful intoxicants, and distributing nitrous oxide.

And Lewis faces charges of trafficking in harmful intoxicants and improperly dispensing or distributing nitrous oxide.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Wahib briefly address the court and Wiant family, who were also present via video link.

‘I want to extend my sincere condolences to the Wiant family,’ he said, adding that he also was remorseful to the state and court for his previous conduct during previous proceedings.

Four criminal cases are still pending against other members of Sigma Pi, including that of  James Wanke (above), 25, who is is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of trafficking in harmful intoxicants, and distributing nitrous oxide

Four criminal cases are still pending against other members of Sigma Pi, including that of  James Wanke (above), 25, who is is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of trafficking in harmful intoxicants, and distributing nitrous oxide

Wade said that the sadness surrounding his son’s death is never more evident than on Father’s Day. He said his other four children known they can never eliminate his grief for even a day, which hurts their family

Wade said that the sadness surrounding his son’s death is never more evident than on Father’s Day. He said his other four children known they can never eliminate his grief for even a day, which hurts their family

Wade and Kathleen Wiant also addressed Wahib separately. 

Wade said that the sadness surrounding his son’s death is never more evident than on Father’s Day. He said his other four children known they can never eliminate his grief for even a day, which hurts their family.

‘Collin’s death would’ve been avoided with the right leadership in this organization,’ Wade said, adding that Wahib was ‘elected to lead men and he failed’.

Kathleen said that though she has lost loved ones before, nothing compares to the emotional trauma of losing her son.

Despite her unrelenting grief, she said she hopes some good can come out of her son’s death and vowed to continue with her efforts to promote anti-hazing.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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