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3 charged in N.Y. student's drinking death

Associated Press / April 1, 2009
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GENESEO, N.Y. - Three members of a banned fraternity were charged with criminally negligent homicide yesterday for organizing a wild night of drinking that left a college sophomore dead of alcohol poisoning.

Arman Partamian, 19, a biology major from Queens, was found lying face-down on a mattress March 1 at a house run by an off-campus club known as the Orange Knights, or Pigs. Police said he had been drinking heavily for three days to gain membership in the club, located near the State University of New York at Geneseo in western New York.

Toxicology tests showed Partamian had a blood-alcohol level as high as 0.55 percent, nearly seven times the legal limit for driving.

Fellow students Alex Stucki, 20, and Daniel Wech, 21, were charged along with Devin McClain, 21, with hazing, unlawfully dealing with a child, and criminally negligent homicide - a felony that carries a sentence of up to four years in prison.

They encouraged and directed Partamian to drink to such excess that he died as a direct result of alcohol poisoning, Livingston County prosecutor Thomas Moran said.

"We've learned that many of the off-campus fraternities have been operating illegal drinking venues," Moran said.

"They call them 'open parties.' The students come, show their student ID, pay $5, and get a cup and then drink without limitation. I'm going to do everything I can to stop every one of those parties."

The three pleaded not guilty at an arraignment yesterday after being indicted by a grand jury. They were all released without bail. McClain lives in nearby Mount Morris and Wech is from Buffalo.

Stucki, of Rochester, also was charged with tampering with physical evidence. He is accused of removing and hiding a fraternity jersey from Partamian's body. He found him dead in an upstairs bedroom the morning after a Saturday drinking session that lasted for almost 12 hours, authorities said.

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