Home Campus Former fraternity members plead guilty in connection to death of Collin Wiant

Former fraternity members plead guilty in connection to death of Collin Wiant

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Zachary Herskovitz awaits sentencing. Photo by Eric Boll.

Three people pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon to charges concerning the hazing-related death of 18-year-old Sigma Pi pledge Collin Wiant.

Dominic Figliola, Cullen McLaughin and Zachary Herskovitz, all former members of Ohio University’s Sigma Pi fraternity chapter, pleaded guilty to charges in their respective cases.

Wiant died at a Sigma Pi annex house on Nov. 12, 2018, from asphyxiation due to a can of nitrous oxide, also known as a “whippet.”

Dominic Figliola, 20, pleaded guilty Thursday to three of the four charges brought against him, which were permitting drug abuse, a fifth degree felony, aggravated trafficking of drugs, a fourth degree felony, and failure to comply with underage alcohol laws, an unclassified misdemeanor.

The defendant also entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of hazing, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

According to Figliola’s plea agreement, he is required to go through Athens County Empowerment (A.C.E.), a rehabilitation program offered to defendants who plead guilty and are charged with low-level offenses, but have no prior felony record. If the program is successfully completed, the defendant’s case will be dismissed, and they will have no record. He is also required to pay a mandatory fine of $500.

Cullen McLauglin, 20, pleaded guilty to two charges of possession of LSD, a fifth degree felony. He is also required to complete the A.C.E. program in accordance with his plea agreement.

Zachary Herskovitz, 21, pleaded guilty to permitting drug abuse, a first degree misdemeanor, and hazing, a fourth degree.

Herskovitz is required to complete the A.C.E. program as a term of his plea agreement. He was also sentenced to one year of non-reporting probation, which means that he will regularly correspond with a probation officer through mail and is required to abide by all local, state and federal laws.

Seven students from Ohio U and two Athens residents in total were indicted in November 2019 in connection to the hazing-related death of Wiant.

In a statement before the sentencing, Herskovitz apologized to the Wiant family. 

“I should’ve stopped it whenever it was going on,” he said.

Judge George McCarthy was upset that Herskovitz’s plea agreement did not mandate prison time for hazing. Despite this, he granted the terms of the plea agreement because Herskovitz cooperated in the investigation.

Kathleen and Wade Wiant, Collin’s parents, gave a statement in front of the court.

“Fraternities and sororities are meant to build on brotherly and sisterly love. And to make you better people, better men, better women — to lift you up,” Kathleen Wiant said of the Greek Life system. “And to know that their destructive, demeaning behavior can be deadly, that those people who are supposed to protect and love you can be the ones that drive you to your death, is a horrific thought.” 

Holding back tears, Mr. Wiant added: “The one thing Kathleen and I can hope for is that we can take this loss and we can save other lives, so things can change.”

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