Today the Orange County district attorney’s office (OCDA) charged five members of UC Irvine’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity in connection with the alcohol-poisoning death earlier this year of student Noah Domingo, 18, who was also a member of the frat.
“Zavier Larenz Brown, now 21, Jonathan Anephi Vu, now 22, Mohamed Ibragim Kharaev, now 21, Caleb Gavin Valleroy, now 20, and Jonathan Gabriel Villicana, now 21, were all members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity at UCI and were all on the lease of the off-campus fraternity house in the City of Irvine,” states an Oct. 30 news release from the OCDA. “SAE member Noah Domingo, 18, of Irvine, died on January 12, 2019, after drinking with members of his fraternity as part of SAE’s ‘Big Brother Night.’ Domingo had joined the fraternity several months prior, and Brown was Domingo’s ‘Big Brother’ at the fraternity.”
Though the OCDA states, “There was no evidence that any of the defendants in the case engaged in hazing in connection with Domingo’s death,” alcohol remains at the heart of all five individuals’ charges.
“Brown has been charged with one misdemeanor count of furnishing alcohol to a minor causing great bodily injury,” according to the release. “Vu has been charged with one misdemeanor count of furnishing an alcoholic beverage to a minor. Brown, Vu, Kharaev, Valleroy and Villicana have all been charged with one misdemeanor count of violating the Irvine Municipal Code for allowing a party or gathering where underage drinking is permitted.”
Brown faces 18 months in jail if convicted on all counts. The others face six months in jail if found guilty.
“Providing alcohol to those under the legal drinking age is reckless and dangerous, especially in an environment that is notorious for excessive drinking by young people who may not understand the potential risks of their behavior,” said DA Todd Spitzer in the news release. “Unfortunately, current law prevented prosecutors from filing anything more than a misdemeanor in this case. The furnishing of alcohol to a minor that results in great bodily injury or death should be a felony, and the Orange County district attorney’s office is pursuing legislation to make that change.”
UC Irvine suspended Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s chapter a couple of days after Domingo’s death. Domingo, who graduated in the spring from Crescenta Valley High School in La Crescenta, where he played football and basketball, followed his 20-year-old sister Brianna to UCI, where he majored in biology and dreamed of becoming involved in sports medicine for a basketball team.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.