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PKS students to perform community service, make restitution for prank

A request by Campus Police for misdemeanor complaints against three undergraduates in connection with a Halloween prank that went awry has been continued without a finding until September 1, 2000. A similar request against an alumnus has been dismissed.

Middlesex County Assistant Clerk Magistrate Robert Pacheco ordered the three students to make restitution of $1,306.42 to the Cambridge Fire Department and perform eight hours of community service each. The complaints relate to the illegal possession and use of fireworks and disturbing the peace.

The students were promoting a Phi Kappa Sigma Halloween party to raise money for the Leukemia Society of America when a device carried by one of them accidentally exploded in his hands as several of them marched through a classroom on October 26. The student holding the device suffered serious hand injuries.

The party was canceled but the drive to raise funds for the Leukemia Society of America continued, culminating in a rally on campus. A check for $14,267 was presented to the charity on Thursday evening by members of Phi Kappa Sigma. The donation included $4,000 raised by the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

"We are grateful to the members of Phi Kappa Sigma for their commitment to the Leukemia Society," said Iris Gleason, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter, who accepted the contribution. "As a fraternity, they have traditionally recognized the importance of our mission. We appreciate that."

The check was presented by PKS president Lanny Chiu in a ceremony at 20 Chimneys in the Stratton Student Center. In addition to Ms. Gleason, the Leukemia Society was represented by Deputy Executive Director Sharon Klein, School and Youth Campaign Coordinator Christine Woodman, and Dr. Anthony Cortese, a 20-year cancer survivor. PKS member Trushar Patel, a junior in biology, organized the event.

In response to the incident, Cambridge and Boston mobilized public safety forces, including the bomb squads from both cities, and the campus and Massachusetts Avenue were disrupted for several hours. A number of MIT buildings had to be evacuated during the investigation. Campus Police found metal fragments from the device scattered in the vicinity, including one deeply embedded in a wooden doorframe.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 8, 1999.

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