The Orange County district attorney’s office charged five UC Irvine fraternity brothers Wednesday with misdemeanors in the alcohol poisoning death of an underage fraternity member in January.
Noah Domingo, 18, a freshman at UCI, joined the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity a few months before his death early Jan. 12 following the group’s “Big Brother Night.”
A toxicology report said his blood-alcohol level was about 0.33% at the time of his death. No other substances were detected in Domingo’s system, the county Sheriff’s Department said in March.
Zavier Larenz Brown, 21; Jonathan Anephi Vu, 22; Mohamed Ibragim Kharaev, 21; Caleb Gavin Valleroy, 20; and Jonathan Gabriel Villicana, 21, were charged with one misdemeanor count each of violating Irvine city code by allowing a party or gathering where underage drinking was permitted. All five were on the lease of an off-campus fraternity house in Irvine.
Brown also was charged with one misdemeanor count of furnishing alcohol to a minor causing great bodily injury.
Vu also was charged with one misdemeanor count of furnishing an alcoholic beverage to a minor.
Officials said there was no evidence that any of the defendants had engaged in hazing in connection with Domingo’s death.
If convicted on all counts, Brown could face a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail. Kharaev, Vu, Valleroy and Villicana could face a maximum of six months.
The Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at UCI was suspended by the fraternity‘s national organization.
“Providing alcohol to those under the legal drinking age is reckless and dangerous, especially in an environment that is notorious for excessive drinking by young people who may not understand the potential risks of their behavior,” Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said in a statement Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, current law prevented prosecutors from filing anything more than a misdemeanor in this case,” Spitzer said. “The furnishing of alcohol to a minor that results in great bodily injury or death should be a felony, and the Orange County district attorney’s office is pursuing legislation to make that change.”
The five defendants are scheduled for an arraignment hearing Nov. 21.