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Family of former University of Missouri pledge asks why prosecutors aren’t charging fraternity with hazing

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The family of Daniel Santulli, the Phi Gamma Delta pledge who was hospitalized with alcohol poisoning in October, is asking Boone County prosecutors why hazing is not one of the criminal charges against active fraternity members.

Santulli is home in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, but is blind and cannot communicate or walk, said David Bianchi, the Santulli family's lawyer.

The incident that put Santulli in the hospital has led to the fraternity's recognition being withdrawn, on-campus discipline against 13 MU students and a criminal charge against a fraternity member.

Alec B. Wetzler is charged in Boone County with misdemeanor counts of supplying liquor to a minor or intoxicated person and purchase or possession of liquor by a minor. A court hearing for Wetzler is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. July 7.

Wetzler is accused of providing alcohol to 18-year-old Santulli and other pledges on Oct. 19 during an event labeled as a "pledge father reveal" at the former Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) house off Kentucky Boulevard.

A probable cause statement from University Police shows officers suggested there is enough evidence to charge Wetzler with a Class D Felony under Missouri's anti-hazing law, but prosecutors only charged him with providing alcohol to a minor.

Santulli's family and lawyer have asked prosecutors why there are no hazing charges.

"Now if you're not going to enforce the hazing laws in Missouri under these circumstances, and you're never going to force them, you might as well just get rid of the law," Bianchi said.

Boone County prosecutors have not responded to ABC 17's questions about the charges.

Santulli was taken to the hospital by fraternity members with suspected alcohol poisoning just before 12:50 a.m. on Oct. 20, according to court documents. Santulli was reportedly unresponsive and not breathing when he was taken to the hospital.

University of Missouri Police Department officers said a witness told them Santulli drank three-fourths of a fifth of vodka.

Police said the pledge Wetzler bought whiskey for shared the bottle with Santulli. Surveillance footage from inside the fraternity's home also shows Wetzler giving Santulli a beer bong, according to court documents.

The footage details more events from the night. Court documents say the pledges had bottles of alcohol taped to their hands, were sprayed with ketchup and mustard, tripped and hit with a box.

Police said the security footage shows several pledge members throwing up from drinking too much.

Ryan Delanty, Santullis' pledge dad, texted another person late on Oct. 19 that his son was "dead", according to court documents. Delanty reportedly replied that he left Santulli after the person asked what he did to him.

At last check, charges haven't been filed against Delanty.

Police recommended charges under Missouri's anti-hazing statute, which could be a felony. Bianchi said he doesn't understand why harsher charges have not been filed in the investigation and that MU police gave prosecutors a 125-page report of their findings.

The University of Missouri stopped recognizing Phi Gamma Delta as a fraternity in October. The school proposed sanctions against more than a dozen students after it investigated the incident. The Phi Gamma Delta national organization also pulled the chapter from MU shortly after the incident.

Santulli's family settled a lawsuit filed against 23 defendants last month. The family accused the defendants of not checking on Santulli or calling 911 before he was taken to the hospital.

Bianchi said last month that Santulli has incurred more than $1.6 million in medical bills. He filed a petition last week to add two more defendants to the lawsuit over Santulli's poisoning.

A motion hearing for the lawsuit is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Article Topic Follows: Crime
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Zachary Farwell

Zachary Farwell is the assignment editor and former senior producer at ABC 17 News.

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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