Scott Krueger and 11 fellow MIT fraternity pledges watched the movie "Animal House" and drank beer, whiskey and other hard liquor before he lost consciousness and was abandoned as he lay dying, the prosecutor claims in papers released just before the first anniversary of Krueger's death.
The legal papers paint a portrait of a night of excessive drinking, when beer and hard liquor flowed, pledges sang drinking songs and two fraternity "big brothers" placed Krueger on his stomach, a trash can nearby, when he lost consciousness.
The papers also document a history of "binge" drinking and other problems at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house in Boston, across the Charles River from MIT.
An autopsy performed the day after his Sept. 29 death revealed that the 18-year-old Orchard Park man died from acute alcohol intoxication and aspiration. His blood-alcohol level was .401 percent, more than five times the legal limit in Massachusetts.
But the five-page statement submitted by Suffolk County District Attorney Ralph C. Martin II lists another cause of death, as revealed by an almost year-long grand-jury investigation:
" . . . the cause of Scott Krueger's death -- in real terms -- was the wanton and reckless conduct on the part of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, its officers and its members in promoting and orchestrating the Animal House drinking event, supplying an inherently dangerous amount of alcohol and then abandoning Scott Krueger when he was in dire need of medical treatment," the statement says.
The grand jury indicted only the local fraternity -- no individuals -- on manslaughter and hazing charges. Those charges carry total fines of $4,000. Since only the fraternity was indicted, no individual faces a possible jail term in this case, the Suffolk County district attorney's office has confirmed.
Why were no individuals indicted?
"In this case, we felt that it was the traditions and actions of the fraternity as a whole that were responsible for this incident," said David Falcone, a spokesman for the district attorney.
The individuals were acting more as a group in following the spirit and traditions of an "Animal House" drinking party in the fraternity house, he explained.
The grand-jury action also paves the way for a possible lawsuit by Krueger's family, a civil suit that's expected to name more targets than just the local fraternity.
"It would not be a surprise to anyone that a civil suit likely will be filed," said Bradley M. Henry, an associate working with Leo V. Boyle, the Krueger family's attorney.
A lawsuit is not expected to be filed until after Thursday's scheduled arraignment of the fraternity. When the suit would be filed and whom it would name haven't been determined yet, Henry said.
Other sources have said that the possible targets of a lawsuit would include MIT, its top officials, the national and local fraternities, the fraternity officers and the students involved in the hazing party.
The Krueger family has said all along that it would wait until after grand jury action before deciding on a lawsuit.
"I think we have a much better idea now of what happened that night," Henry said.
The legal papers present the following narrative:
Four days after arriving on campus, Krueger "pledged" the fraternity and moved into a basement room there. In the weeks before Krueger's death, many underage students had become ill from drinking too much inside the fraternity house.
The 12 Phi Gamma Delta pledges learned that they had to attend the Sept. 26 "Animal House Night," where they would watch that movie, drink a prescribed amount of alcohol and meet their "big brothers."
Krueger, who had limited drinking experiences, expressed anxiety about the event to his sister and fellow pledges.
On the night of Sept. 26, after drinking all the beer and Jack Daniels whisky provided for them, the pledges lined up and sang a drinking song that ended with the words "drink her down, drink her down, drink her down, down, down."
Then Krueger's "big brother" presented him with a bottle of Bacardi spiced rum.
Later that night, Krueger complained of nausea and lay down on a couch. Within minutes, he began to lose consciousness. Two "big brothers" then carried him to his bedroom, placed him on his stomach and put a trash can near him.
About 10 minutes later, Krueger was found unconscious and covered with vomit. Instead of calling 911 immediately, a fraternity member dialed MIT campus police, who transferred the call to 911.
Emergency personnel found that Krueger was not breathing, his face was blue, and he had choked on his own vomit. He was rushed to a Boston hospital, where he remained in a coma for about 40 hours before being pronounced dead Sept. 29.
The legal papers also claim that the fraternity was notorious for its frequent parties and underaged drinking.
"Boston police officers, MIT police officers and various medical personnel had been called to the fraternity on at least 15 different occasions during the preceding five years -- for complaints ranging from drinking and loud parties to fighting, and most significantly, for students requiring medical assistance from binge drinking," the papers state.
The Boston Licensing Board had disciplined the fraternity twice for drinking-related violations in 1996 and 1997. Even fraternity alumni had recommended an alcohol ban, and a Boston College dean had complained to MIT officials about the fraternity.
Yet the fraternity never took steps to curb the serious alcohol problems, the papers say.
If found guilty, the fraternity would have to pay no more than $4,000 in fines.
But that's not the point, Falcone said.
"What's more important to us is that this organization be (found responsible) for the actions that led to the death of Scott Krueger," the district attorney's spokesman said.
Falcone expects someone representing the fraternity to appear at the arraignment.
"We're not going to speculate who's going to show up," he said. "We remain confident that someone representing the association will show up."
The district attorney's office has come under fire in some Boston circles for not targeting MIT or its top officials. MIT is considered the premier technical university in the nation, a powerful and influential organization in the Boston area.
Falcone called that criticism unfounded and unfair.
"There's a specific and logical reason why we are charging this case the way we are," he replied. "It has nothing to do with politics or the power of (MIT)."