Officials charged in alcohol-related death

Chris Newmarker (AP)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – Two Rider University officials, including the dean of students, and three students were indicted Friday in the death of a freshman after a drinking binge at a campus fraternity house.

Gary DeVercelly Jr., of Long Beach, Calif., had a blood-alcohol level of 0.426 percent, more than five times New Jersey’s legal limit when he was pronounced dead March 30 at a Trenton hospital, authorities said. He died the day after drinking at the Phi Kappa Tau house on the private school’s campus in central New Jersey.

The school dissolved the Phi Kappa Tau chapter Friday.

Friends of the freshman said DeVercelly, 18, told them he would be drinking vodka during pledge initiation at the fraternity house, The Times of Trenton has reported.

The officials and students charged were Ada Badgley, 31, the university’s director of Greek life; Anthony Campbell, 51, the dean of students; Adriano DiDonato, 22, a student who was also the residence director and house master of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house; Dominic Olsen, 21, pledge master of Spring 2007 Phi Kappa Tau pledge class; and Michael J. Torney, 21, the chapter president.

If convicted, the officials and fraternity members would face a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini Jr. wouldn’t discuss evidence in detail, but he has said previously that the investigation revealed some of the pledges drank entire bottles of hard liquor in under an hour.

There were also charges at the municipal level against 15 people accused of providing alcohol to minors, with another 23 charged with underage drinking. Three students also face drug charges after a search of the fraternity house, Bocchini said.