2 Ohio University students plead guilty in 18-year-old's hazing death

Google Street View(ATHENS, OH) —  Two Ohio University students pleaded guilty Thursday for their involvement in the hazing death of an 18-year-old freshman, prosecutors said.

Dominic A. Figliola, 21, and Cullen Willi McLaughlin, 21, both appeared before a judge to enter their pleas in the death of Collin Wiant, who died of asphyxiation from nitrous oxide ingestion on Nov. 12, 2018, according to a statement from Athens County Prosecuting Attorney Keller Blackburn.

Figliola pleaded guilty to hazing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, while McLaughlin pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of LSD, a fifth-degree felony, according to the statement.

Neither were hit with jail time. They will instead have to successfully complete the Prosecutor’s Office Athens County Empowerment Program.

Figliola was also ordered to complete a year of probation.

A third person, Zachary Herskovitz, 22, of Coraopolis, PA, also appeared in court and pleaded guilty to permitting drug abuse, a felony of the fifth degree. Herkovitz was convicted of hazing, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, and ordered to complete one year of non-reporting probation and pay a fine of $250.

Blackburn said that both students were part of a “cycle of hazing that has existed within Ohio University Sigma Pi fraternity for years.”

Wiant was a freshman at the university and had been selected as a pledge two months before he died, according to a wrongful death suit filed by his family in February against the fraternity and 10 individuals.

The teenager died inside a Sigma Pi Epsilon annex house in Athens, Ohio, where he was allegedly beaten with a belt, pelted with eggs, deprived of sleep and forced to take drugs and drink a gallon of alcohol in an hour, the lawsuit alleged.

Seven other people were also arrested in his death and indicted on a range of charges, including involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, trafficking and tampering with evidence.

Figliola and McLaughlin will testify against those defendants as part of their guilty plea, according to prosecutors.

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