Fiji Members Fail to Appear at Manslaughter ArraignmentBy Douglas E. Heimburger
Editor in Chief
Phi Gamma Delta failed to appear at yesterday's scheduled arraignment of the fraternity in Suffolk Superior Court.
No members of the group or attorneys representing the group attended the hearing before Magistrate William E. Walsh. Prosecutors immediately moved for a hearing on the fraternity's default, which will be held Monday.
A default hearing is typically used when an individual fails to appear at his arraignment, and generally results in an arrest warrant being issued.
Prosecutors would not say yesterday what plans they have for forcing the fraternity to appear, if any. "We will make our intentions known on Monday," said Assistant District Attorney Pamela Weschler, who is prosecuting the case.
Default is a "formal recognition from the court"of an individual's failure to appear, Weschler said.
Walsh said he was "perplexed"by the fraternity's default and how the court will proceed. He asked Weschler: "Have you also contemplated what we will do with the warrant?"
National withdraws legal support
Maria R. Durant, a lawyer affiliated with the national fraternity that appeared three weeks ago before Walsh, did not appear in court yesterday.
Durant said on Oct. 1 that she was seeking to represent the fraternity in court. She did not return phone calls yesterday.
A letter from another attorney at Durant's firm, Dwyer and Collera, to the judge said the national fraternity had blocked them from representing the fraternity. "Yesterday afternoon,Ilearned that the international fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta will not authorize this firm to enter an appearance on behalf of the local chapter,"said attorney William H. Kettlewell in a letter to Walsh.
"Simply put, there is no chapter to appear inSuffolk County Superior Court to answer the indictments,"said Phi Gamma Delta national spokesperson William A. Martin III in a statement. "The chapter is not in operation." Martin declined to answer questions yesterday.
Prosecutors indicted Fiji last month on charges of manslaughter and hazing related to the Sept. 1997 death of Scott S. Krueger '01.
Krueger allegedly died after taking part in an "Animal House"pledge night activity at the fraternity, according to prosecutors.
When Fiji was indicted last month, prosecutors announced no individuals would have to stand trial in connection with Krueger's death.
As an unincorporated corporation, officers of Fiji are not required under law to provide representation.
If convicted of manslaughter and hazing, Fiji could face a fine of up to $4,000.Additionally, the Krueger family has suggested that it may eventually file civil lawsuits in the case.