Ka-Wing Yuen, a defendant in the 2013 fatal hazing of fellow Baruch College student Chun Hsien “Michael” Deng, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in a Pennsylvania court, prosecutors said.
Yuen, 25, is the first of 37 co-defendants to plead guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to hinder apprehension by evidence tampering and a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to haze, according to DNAinfo.
On December 8, 2013, Deng, 19, died from a head injury sustained during a hazing ritual, known as the “glass ceiling,” at a fraternity retreat in the Poconos for the Baruch chapter of Pi Delta Psi, which has now been banned from the school.
Investigators presented evidence against Yuen in a bench trial, the first among the 38 co-defendants including Pi Delta Psi members, which faces conspiracy charges, according to Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Metzger.
“We have one down and 37 to go, counting the charges against the fraternity as a corporation,” said Metzger.
Yuen also faced charges of hindering apprehension by tampering with evidence, hindering apprehension by lying to investigators, and conspiracy charges for the same offenses.
After pleading guilty to the evidence-tampering conspiracy charge and misdemeanor, the other three felony charges were dropped.
Yuen faces a maximum of eight years in prison, and his sentence hearing is set for January 23.
Charles Lai, Kenny Kwan, Raymond Lam, and Sheldon Wong, the frat brothers who were reportedly directly responsible for injuring Deng, were charged by police with criminal homicide, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, simple assault, hindering apprehension, hazing and criminal conspiracy.
During the hazing, Deng and other pledges wore a blindfold and were forced to carry a 20-pound backpack filled with sand as they ran to fraternity brothers who pushed and tackled them to the ground, court records revealed.
Deng did not back down and kicked one of the brothers, who began hitting him harder, according to a 2015 grand jury investigation released by the Monroe County District Attorney’s office.
Deng appeared dazed and mumbled the words pledges were ordered to say after completing the ritual. That’s when he collapsed and started “snoring” as he had a hard time breathing, according to the testimony.
The frat bros carried him inside, where they placed him near the fireplace and hoped to revive him with some water and sugar, which didn’t work as Deng continued to gasp for air and shiver.
Andy Meng, the national fraternity’s president, encouraged them to cover up all evidence linking the fraternity to the incident.
More than an hour passed before three member drove Deng to a local hospital in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, but he was already in shock by that time, according to investigators.
Deng died a few days later after suffering massive head trauma and damage to his lungs due to repeated impact to his rib cage.
“The delay in treatment of 1-2 hours significantly contributed to death of Mr. Deng,” police said during a grand jury testimony.