Charges of a member of the Pi Alpha Phi fraternity dropped, witnesses react

In connection with the death of MSU student Phat Nguyen, the Ingham Country Attorney’s Office dismissed charges against former MSU student Hoang John Huu Pham on September 15.

Pham, along with former MSU students and co-defendants Ethan Cao and Andrew Nguyen, were each charged with three counts of hazing resulting in bodily harm and one count of hazing resulting in death in June.

Both Cao and Andrew Nguyen have waived their right to a preliminary review and will be arraigned on September 28 in the 30th Circuit Court, according to East Lansing Court Administrator Nicole Evans.

According to a Facebook post by Pi Alpha Phi on November 19, 2021, Cao was the Master of Pledges, Andrew Nguyen was the Father of Pledges, and Pham was the “big brother” of Phat Nguyen. Pham was also the fraternity president and hosted the “crossing party,” according to the Lansing State Journal.

Phat Nguyen and Andrew Nguyen are not related.

Although Pham hosted the party, Dustyn Coontz, Pham’s attorney, has not seen evidence that Pham interfered with the promises to the point of physical harm, according to the Lansing State Journal.

Two anonymous witnesses who attended the party and were also interviewed by state news in December, responded to the fraternity member’s charges being dropped.

A witness at the party confirmed that upon seeing the pledges in the basement, they said to a fraternity member, “Oh, I would never drink so much.”

“You have no choice,” the fraternity member said, according to the witness.

MSU deputy spokesman Dan Olsen declined to comment.

“I’m not really surprised”, another witness said. “To me, it’s like he got away with it easily. … It just seems unfair.

Ingham County Assistant District Attorney Randall Behrmann did not respond to a request for comment.

A witness acknowledges that the “Big Bro” of an engagement is usually their place of safety and said they believe Pham could not have contributed to the hazing. However, they said the hazing of other fraternity members was evident.

“The promise that died was 100% hazed to death, I’ll say that,” a witness said. “I saw it at first thing – they obviously wouldn’t do this to themselves, someone made them do it.”

If a student needs support services, contact MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services, or CAPS, to schedule individual counseling sessions or call CAPS Crisis Services who can be reached at (517) 355-8270 and are available for students at all times.

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