Two former Ohio University Sigma Pi fraternity members connected to the death of Collin Wiant pleaded guilty Wednesday to several charges, marking an end to all cases for former fraternity members involved in the investigation.
Joshua Thomas Androsac, 21, of Lewis Center, Ohio, pleaded guilty to permitting drug abuse, a firth-degree felony; two counts of trafficking in harmful intoxicants, both fifth-degree felonies, and trafficking in cocaine, another fifth-degree felony.
He also entered a guilty plea for hazing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, and negligent homicide, a first-degree misdemeanor, according a news release from Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn. Androsac was ordered to 70 days in jail for the misdemeanor offenses. His remaining felony charges will be held in abeyance, or temporarily suspended, upon him completing Blackburn’s Athens County Empowerment (A.C.E.), a rehabilitation program offered to those who plead guilty with no prior felony record.
Corbin Michael Gustafson, 23, of Furlong, Pennsylvania, entered a plea of guilty to complicity to permitting drug abuse, a first-degree misdemeanor. The court ordered to suspend Gustafson’s plea pending his completion of the A.C.E. program.
Wiant, an 18-year-old OU student, died in November 2018 while at the reported annex of OU’s Sigma Pi chapter at 45 Mill St. in Athens.
Five other former members of Sigma Pi, which was expelled from OU in April 2019 for multiple violations of university hazing and alcohol policies, who were connected to Wiant’s death were either convicted or entered into guilty pleas in recent months. Zachary Herskovitz, 22, of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, was convicted on Feb. 22, 2020, of hazing. He also entered a guilty plea for permitting drug abuse. His felony charges were held in abeyance pending his completion of the A.C.E. program. Dominic A. Figliola, 21, of Athens, Ohio, pleaded guilty on Feb. 27, 2020, to charges of hazing, permitting drug abuse; aggravated possession of drugs, a fourth-degree felony; and failure to comply with underage alcohol laws, an unclassified misdemeanor, which the court held in abeyance pending completion of the A.C.E. program. Figliola was also ordered to complete one year of non-reporting probation for the hazing conviction. Cullen Willi McLaughlin, 21, of Northfield, Ohio, pleaded guilty Feb. 27, 2020, to two counts of possession of L.S.D., both fifth-degree felonies, which were held in abeyance pending his completion of the A.C.E. program.
Saxon Angell-Perez, 22, in May was convicted of hazing. Angell-Perez also entered a plea of guilty to permitting drug abuse and possession of cocaine, which the court held in abeyance pending his completion of the A.C.E. program. He was also ordered to complete one year of non-reporting probation for the hazing charge.
Elijah Robert Wahib, 22, of Westlake, Ohio, entered a guilty plea June 23, 2020, to two counts of obstructing justice, both fifth-degree felonies; permitting drug abuse, and two counts of hazing. Judge Patrick J. Lang sentenced Wahib to serve a total of 31 days in jail for the hazing charges and ordered him to complete the A.C.E. program and held his guilty plea in abeyance pending his completion of the program for the felony charges.
“The fraternity participated in cyclical hazing. Each class was hazed as a part of being initiated into the fraternity and then they awaited the opportunity to inflict the same or worse hazing two years later upon new pledges,” Blackburn said in a statement.
“The culture of silence and presumed consent with hazing must be stopped and legislative changes are necessary.”
The county prosecutor endorsed “Collin’s Law,” or the Anti-Bullying and Hazing Act, a bill introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives by Rep. Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake) in 2019 that aims to make both hazing and failure to report hazing felonies. Under current state law, hazing is a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
Blackburn said he worked with the Wiant family, Rep. Greenspan, Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) and Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) in the past to change hazing laws.
“I am looking forward to the General Assembly passing Collin’s Law, hopefully this year,” Blackburn said.
Action hasn’t been taken on the bill since September 2019, when it was referred to the House Primary and Secondary Education committee.
The Wiant family in July sued Silver Serpent Exotic Gifts, an Athens business that primarily sells vape and tobacco products, and its employees for negligence after it allegedly illegally sold a canister of nitrous oxide to Androsac, resulting in Wiant’s death.
Stephan B. Lewis and James Wanke, both Silver Serpent employees, were recently criminally charged in connection to Wiant’s death, but their cases are still pending.
Lewis was charged with trafficking in harmful Intoxicants and improperly dispensing or distributing nitrous oxide, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. Lewis worked at Silver Serpent (and may still). Lewis also pleaded not guilty during his June arraignment in Athens County Common Pleas Court, and was released on his own recognizance.
Wanke/Silver Serpent, LLC, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, a felony of the first degree; two counts of trafficking in harmful intoxicants; involuntary manslaughter, a felony of the third degree; and improperly dispensing or distributing nitrous oxide.
The Wiants in February 2019 also sued Sigma Pi Fraternity’s Epsilon Chapter in Athens, and the Sigma Pi Fraternity’s international organization, seeking a jury trial for the wrongful hazing-related death of their son, The Athens NEWS previously reported.