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Beta Theta Pi Member Arrested on Drug Charges

by on February 17, 2017 12:13 PM

A Penn State student is accused of selling drugs from the fraternity house where another student suffered injuries in a fall down the steps that led to his death earlier this month.

Braxton Becker, 20, of Niskayuna, N.Y., was charged Friday with seven felony counts of possession with intent to deliver, three felony counts of criminal use of a communication facility, four misdemeanor counts of possession of with intent to deliver and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Becker was listed as the house manager of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, 220 N. Burrowes St., on the officers page of the chapter's website. Earlier this month, Penn State student and fraternity pledge Timothy Piazza fell down the basement steps of the fraternity during a bid acceptance ceremony on the night Feb. 2. Emergency personnel were not called until the following morning. He died on Feb. 4 from traumatic injuries. Police say Piazza was intoxicated at the time of the fall and are investigating whether hazing was involved.

Beta Theta Pi was suspended by its national organization and Penn State. On Friday afternoon, Penn State said it has withdraw recognition of Beta Theta Pi for at least five years.

The investigation of Becker began in November 2016 when State College Police say a confidential informant told them Becker was selling large amounts of marijuana from the fraternity house.

On Dec. 9, police arranged a controlled purchase through the informant, according to a criminal complaint. The informant reportedly sent a text message to Becker and arranged to buy 2 ounces of marijuana for $440. A second controlled purchase of 2 ounces of marijuana for $460 was made on Jan. 16, police said. The informant reportedly said there were three other individuals in the room where the marijuana was sold and that Becker showed the informant a bag containing an estimated pound of marijuana.

Police received court authorization to use a hidden recording device and said that Becker told the informant the prices would be cheaper if the informant purchased more frequently.

On Feb. 8, the informant allegedly contacted Becker about another purchase. Becker replied that he would bring marijuana to the informant but didn't want people coming to the fraternity house "with what happened," referring to Piazza's death, police said.

The informant said he or she couldn't meet that night but arranged by text message another purchase of marijuana on Thursday, according to the complaint. Police said the informant went to the fraternity house and purchased 2 ounces of marijuana for $450.

Later on Thursday, police obtained a search warrant for Becker's room on the second floor of the house. They allegedly found about 7.7 ounces of suspected marijuana in various locations, a vacuum sealer, digital scale, $611 in a backpack, $1000 in a box, drug paraphernalia and a pill container with 16 unidentified pills of different shapes.

Becker was arraigned before District Judge Kelley Gillette-Walker with bail set at $250,000. A preliminary hearing is set for Wednesday.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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