The fate of a Temple University fraternity is uncertain after a police raid last Thursday that resulted in hundreds of citations for underage drinking.
Between 20 and 25 police officers entered the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity house at 2000 N. Broad Street, around 11:15 p.m. and cited 270 people for underage consumption of alcohol, according to Temple University Police.
There was in excess of 400 people at the party; approximately 200 of those cited were Temple students, Temple police Lt. Robert Lowell said.
“It was no more crowded than usual,” said Rob Hatami, a sophomore who was at the party but did not get cited.
“It wasn’t that bad compared to other times.”
Lowell said charges are pending for fraternity president Phil Stefano, the doorman and the bartender, for distributing liquor without a license and distributing alcohol to minors.
Stefano refused to comment and other fraternity brothers failed to return phone calls.
The Temple chapter of Pi Lambda Phi has a roster of about 55 members.
There were 17 members living in the house at the time.
Pennsylvania State Police Liquor Control Enforcement headed the undercover operation and is conducting an ongoing investigation.
Philadelphia police and campus police assisted with the investigation last Thursday.
It took three to four hours to complete the citations.
Undercover officers were present at the party before the backup units entered the fraternity house.
“[The officers] paid their five dollar fee and went,” Lowell said.
The Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections closed the house on Feb. 22 on a number of L & I code violations.
According to the violations report, 30 codes were violated, including an inoperable fire alarm system and smoke and heat detectors – which were covered in paint — obstructions to fire escapes and windows, rubbish surrounding the premises, damage to fire resistance assemblies and open drain pipes.
The report also stated that “the conditions found at [the Pi Lambda Phi house] are dangerous to human life and/or the public welfare.”
The exterior and interior walls, along with the ceiling, floor and fire escapes, were also in violation of codes.
The fraternity did not have a building permit for alterations to the interior of the house.
Pi Lambda Phi alumni, who own the property, were cited as well, and the fraternity was evicted from the house until the house can pass inspections.
The Pi Lambda Phi International Headquarters will make the final decision whether to revoke the chapter’s charter.
That decision may not come until after the judicial hearing.
A hearing date will be announced at a later time, but the Temple University Greek Association Executive Board received the formal complaint Wednesday night.
The party was registered through Kristl Wiernicki, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and advisor to TUGA.
Fraternities that throw parties must register beforehand and may allow entrance to only those on the guest list.
“They cannot run a speakeasy and be charging people at the door for alcohol,” Lowell said.
After initial entry, police officials questioned and cited those who were underage.
Some were asked to take a Breathalyzer test.
Those who were 21 years of age and older were allowed to leave the scene after providing proper identification.
“We wanted to make sure it was all thought out, so we had a quick meeting with Liquor Control Enforcement and Philadelphia Police,” said Deputy Director of Campus Safety Charles Leone.
“It went perfectly as planned.”
According to campus police, no one was taken away in handcuffs or had to spend the night in jail.
“They had plastic ties,” Hatami said.
“But the only guy I saw in handcuffs was the guy collecting money, but they uncuffed him.”
All three police agencies present at the party said narcotics were not found on the premises.
“I have no information about that,” Wiernicki said.
“No drugs were confiscated,” a source from the Philadelphia Police Department said.
“If they had drugs, they threw them away.”Hatami disagreed.
“There were kids smoking weed, but there wasn’t anything bad,” Hatami said.
“I didn’t see it, but I smelled it.” There had been previous complaints about the Pi Lambda Phi house.
“We had some common themes, some common complaints of certain behavior for that area,” Leone said.
Previous problems, according to Temple police, included crowd control, noise and an unconscious woman that was found outside the house last semester.
Liquor Control Enforcement previously had conducted a survey in the house and found clear violations of the law, according to police.
Leone and campus police were notified of the party the night before; they then notified Liquor Control Enforcement and Philadelphia Police.
“We were looking at how [the fraternity house] was being run,” Leone said.
“Is it being run as an establishment, or a house…we’ve had some serious concerns.”
The TUGA Executive Board will be the first to address these concerns.
The board will also have to decide on accepting jurisdiction or sending it to the judicial board.
The judicial board consists of one non-voting and six voting chairpersons.
Those voting are two representatives each from the Interfraternity Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Association and the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
If the case goes to the judicial board, the chapter will appear and send representatives to argue on behalf of the Temple Pi Lambda Phi chapter.
Local police and Liquor Control Enforcement will present evidence on behalf of the University to support the violations.
It will then be up to the judicial board to decide what “the culpability is,” according to Wiernicki.
“It will be interesting to see what Pi Lambda Phi argues as a defense,” Wiernicki said.
Pi Lambda Phi could be subject to fines and restitution, community service, restriction of social privileges, probation, suspension or expulsion.
The fraternity could appeal any of the charges.
The ultimate repercussion the fraternity could face would be a loss of recognition from the University.
Dr. Theresa Powell, Vice President for Student Affairs, will make that final decision.
Chris Silva can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.