Fraternity wrecks lodge in northeastern Washington

Fraternity wrecks lodge in northeastern Washington

By Brandon Cline, Editor in Chief

On April 18, The Chewelah Independent reported that an EWU fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, left over $4,000 in damages at the Northern Lights Lodge near Northport, Washington.

Chase Lea, the fraternity’s treasurer who booked the lodge, has been charged with second degree malicious mischief and first degree criminal impersonation. Lea pleaded not guilty to those charges in Stevens County Superior Court on April 19.

According to the police report filed by Deputy Eric Middlesworth, Lea claimed to be with the Washington State University Bird Watching and Wildlife Club, which does not exist. In emails from Chase that the lodge provided for law enforcement, Chase “clearly” states that he is a member of the fictional club.

The representative for the Northern Lights Lodge stated that they would have never rented the lodge to the group if they or any of the lodge’s staff knew that the group was a fraternity.

Beta Theta Pi threw a party during one of the two nights it had rented the lodge. According to the police report, the representative for the lodge said the party was attended by over 100 people and caused some $4,800 in damages and over $2,000 in lost profits due to the lodge not being available to be rented out to other vacationers.

The Northern Lights Lodge representative contacted the EWU Student Rights and Responsibilities Director, Tim Orton, and told him about the incident, according to the police report. Orton allegedly told the representative that he would begin an investigation and re contact them once he “found something out.”

The representative then stated in the police report that they were contacted via email by Lea, “who stated he knew there was damage and wanted to make restitution and settle the issue between the two parties.” The representative stated that they ignored the email because they were waiting for a response from Orton.

Later, after contacting Orton again and being told that he was starting his own investigation with the fraternity over the matter, the representative was contacted by Lea. In the email, Lea admitted to “hijinks” by misrepresenting what organization he was affiliated with, and stated that the trip was sanctioned by EWU. In the police report, Lea stated that all remaining weekend getaways for Beta Theta Pi were suspended for the rest of the year.

On March 19, Deputy Middlesworth contacted Orton and “advised him that the investigation had become criminal,” according to the police report. “[Orton] stated he was doing his own investigation and told me that due to school rules he would not be able to provide any information about its students.”

In the report, Deputy Middlesworth said that “there is probable cause to believe that Chase committed the crimes” of criminal impersonation in the first degree and malicious mischief in the second degree, due to the fact that Lea represented himself as a member of another organization to rent the lodge, where a party took place that caused over $4,800 in damage to the lodge.

The charges filed against Lea carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison or a fine of $10,000.