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The New York Times Reports on Antonio Tsialas Hazing Case

For over a year, our firm has investigated the death of 18-year-old Antonio Tsialas, who was found at the bottom of a gorge near the fraternity house where he was last seen. Antonio, a remarkable young man, had only been at Cornell University for a few weeks when he joined a club soccer team, found a job, and was just settling into life at college.

The night he died, Antonio was invited to a fraternity tradition at Phi Kappa Psi called “Christmas in October,” where prospective pledges were pressured to drink enormous amounts of alcohol in multiple themed drinking challenges. Witnesses say that some attendees blacked out and vomited due to the amount of alcohol. One freshman says a young woman claimed Antonio wasn’t drunk enough and proceeded to pour vodka down his throat.

All of this has now been reported by the New York Times in a front-page article featuring the Tsialas family and their search for answers. The article, which ran on the Metro section’s front page on March 14, 2021, detailed the gut-wrenching journey that Flavia Tomesello and John Tsialas have taken to learn what happened to their son. The civil case, which our firm pursued for the family, has been resolved.

“The tragedy of Antonio Tsialas’ death following a carefully planned night of hazing has become all too familiar,” said David Bianchi, who continues to represent the Tsialas family with Michael Levine from our firm. “We have seen two more senseless hazing deaths in the past two weeks. For families to get answers in these terrible cases, we can never give up searching for why this happened and we never will.”

According to the New York Times article, one of the big obstacles in getting answers to how and why Antonio died is due to the fact that the Cornell chapter of Phi Kappa Psi “closed ranks” in response to the police investigation. Our firm has continued to call for the District Attorney to convene a grand jury to investigate the students who organized the fraternity event that night but he continues to refuse to do that.

“Our work on behalf of Antonio’s parents continues,” David Bianchi said. “We are not giving up.”

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