3 Indicted in the Binge Drinking Death of Fraternity Pledge

Published: December 18, 2006

AUSTIN – A year after the alcohol-related death of 18-year-old fraternity pledge Phanta “Jack” Phoummarath, a Travis County grand jury indicted three former officers of the unsanctioned Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity at the University of Texas at Austin.

The indictments charged the fraternity’s former president Benny Chan with seven counts of furnishing alcohol to a minor and 22 counts of hazing; former pledge captain Andrew Nguyen with seven counts of furnishing alcohol to a minor and 28 counts of hazing; and former hellmaster Kamal Pulukuri with 14 counts of hazing.

Furnishing alcohol to a minor is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $4,000. Hazing is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $2,000.

In a Dec. 9, 2005 fraternity initiation ceremony, Phoummarath and several other pledges celebrated their full memberships by drinking as many as eight bottles of liquor. Later that night Phoummarath passed out and was pronounced dead the next day. He died of alcohol poisoning with a blood-alcohol level of more than five times the legal limit.

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