UVa students sent to jail after frat abduction ‘tradition'
By Tasha Kates
A group of University of Virginia second-year students will serve jail time in April for what their attorney said is a fraternity prank gone wrong.
Chase Wagner Whitlow, Gabriel Rust-Tierney, Jordan Vinsant Davis and Joseph Uzcategui, all members of Chi Phi, pleaded guilty Thursday to disorderly conduct as part of a plea agreement in Charlottesville General District Court, according to Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Claude Worrell. The four men were sentenced to 90 days in jail, 86 of which were suspended.
In September, the then-19-year-old students were charged with abduction in connection with an incident in April. According to authorities, four men threw the victim into the back of a car in the university area and left him in the road near a Crozet restaurant. The victim, who was not seriously hurt, called police at the restaurant.
Worrell declined to comment on the nature of the offense. However, defense attorney James E. “Bud” Treakle said Thurs-day that the four men were taking part in a “fraternity tradition” in which someone kidnaps an older fraternity brother and drops him off somewhere, leaving him to find his way home. The older fraternity member in this case didn’t report it as a prank, the lawyer said.
It was not clear if the four men were Chi Phi members at the time of the incident, but Treakle confirmed that they are currently brothers in the fraternity.
Treakle, who was hired by all four students, said the plea agreement was “damage control” in hopes of avoiding a felony trial. The attorney said he thought the sentence was severe based on the facts of the case, which he said police spent a substantial amount of time investigating.
Treakle said his clients spoke to police before going home for the summer and were charged in September. The men spent the night in jail after their arrest, and by their lawyer’s calculations, have only one day left to serve.
Worrell said the students are expected to report to jail April 17. The prosecutor did not confirm Treakle’s calculations.