Tim Bream, the former live-in adviser for Beta Theta Pi fraternity, will not face a perjury charge for his testimony at a preliminary hearing in the case.
He could, however, still be investigated for other potential charges brought in a private criminal complaint filed in May by an attorney for one of the former fraternity brothers who was charged in the case stemming from the death of pledge and Penn State sophomore Timothy Piazza.
Bream was also the head athletic trainer for the Penn State football team until February, when he resigned. His position as fraternity adviser was separate from his Penn State employment.
Peter Sala, attorney for Joseph Sala, filed the private criminal complaint with the Centre County District Attorney’s Office, seeking charges of perjury, recklessly endangering another person and furnishing alcohol to minors against Bream.
In a letter to Sala on Friday, Deputy District Attorney Sean McGraw wrote that, assuming Bream lied about his knowledge of alcohol at fraternity events, including at the bid acceptance night where a heavily intoxicated Piazza sustained fatal injuries in a fall down the basement stairs, ‘those presumed falsehoods did not entail a reasonable likelihood of affecting the course or outcome of the Piazza preliminary hearing.’
Bream testified at the first preliminary hearing in August that he did not know about or approve of alcohol at fraternity functions. Several defense attorneys, who have questioned why an adult in an oversight role has not been charged in the case, said that text messages and witness statements later showed that Bream had arranged for a bartender for at least one event, and was present at meetings where brothers discussed having alcohol-centered events.
Bream also testified that he was asleep in his room the night of Piazza’s fall and was unaware at the time of what occurred. Surveillance video footage would later show Bream walking through the hall, about 10 feet from where Piazza was on the floor, shortly after 5 a.m.
The lead investigator in the case, State College Det. David Scicchitano, testified at a second preliminary hearing in March that he now believed Bream lied during his testimony.
McGraw wrote in the response to Sala that the complaint was ‘devoid of allegations supporting a case for recklessly endangering another person against Bream.’
The complaint did, though, establish the possibility that Bream may have made unsworn falsification to authorities and furnished alcohol to minors, according to McGraw.
‘Bream’s sworn denial of knowledge about various fraternity events is contradicted by statements made to Detective Scicchitano by other involved actors,’ McGraw wrote. ‘Because those denials may have been an effort by Bream to evade culpability, further investigation is necessary to determine who was telling the truth.
‘Allegations that Bream facilitated the consumption of alcohol by minors may support a prosecution for furnishing alcohol to minors if supported by evidence sufficient to establish accomplice liability. Yet such a charge would, as with the unsworn falsification allegation, depend on the credibility of the actors who supplied Detective Scicchitano with the information.’
McGraw said those determinations of credibility would be best made by police in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, which in January took over the case against the charged former Beta brothers. Both potential charges were referred to State College police ‘for further inquiry, drawing if necessary on the materials and resources possessed by the Attorney General.’
Sala can appeal the determination to the Centre County Court of Common Pleas within 30 days.
After two rounds of charges and three preliminary hearings, 24 former fraternity members are facing trial on a variety of misdemeanors in the case for their alleged roles in the night of Piazza’s fatal injuries and its aftermath. One defendant, Ryan Burke, pleaded guilty on June 13 to hazing and alcohol charges.
A trial for 14 of the defendants is scheduled for August.