Two students arrested on drug charges

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Two Allegheny students were arrested on multiple drug charges April 18 after a suspicious package arrived at a house on Prospect Street, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

Jacob Bonessi, ’14, and Gavin Gratson, ’15, were each charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors, including criminal conspiracy with intent to distribute and possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia, according to police criminal complaints.

Affidavits filed by arresting officer Trooper Edward J. Walker stated that the suspects allegedly ordered a shipment of white powder, later confirmed to be MDMA (Ecstasy), from British Columbia concealed in a “Titanic” DVD packet, addressed to Bonessi, to be delivered to a house on the 200 block of Prospect Street.

The affidavits reported the delivery was intercepted. Police searched the house where they discovered marijuana, hallucinogenic mushrooms and other drug paraphernalia.

Police then searched the off-campus house owned by the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity on North Main St. where Bonessi and Gratson reside. The affidavits reported that police found marijuana and money order receipts, and, according to Director of Safety and Security and SAE advisor Jeff Schneider, a compound derived from LSD and hashish, along with pipes and grinders in their rooms.

According to the affidavits, Bonessi and Gratson allegedly admitted to ordering the DVD to be delivered to the house on Prospect St.

Police arrested them and they were later released from the Crawford County Prison on $5,000 bail each, according to the cases’ criminal dockets.

The affidavits showed that police interviewed three additional suspects residing in the Prospect Street house, but their identities have not been released.

Schneider said sanctions for the suspects could range from probation to expulsion if the allegations prove true.

“It’s unusual, because we’ve not experienced an issue like this,” Schneider said. “I’ve only been here three years, but I’ve come from the Pitt system, and we’ve dealt with these there. But at Allegheny, this is the first case of a serious nature like this that they’ve had to deal with, so it’s unique for them.”

Former SAE president Michael Yarnell, ’14, stated that the fraternity had no involvement in the incident.

“This incident was not a fraternity issue,” Yarnell said. “It is misrepresentation to allow this to reflect on us whatsoever.”

Schneider said that representatives from SAE’s national fraternity will visit campus in the coming weekend to discuss the incident.

It is yet unclear how campus and fraternity officials will react to the events.

Dean of Students Joe DiChristina and Student Conduct Officer Joe Hall did not respond to requests for comment. Interfraternity Council advisor Gretchen Symons and Provost and Dean of the College Linda DeMeritt declined to comment.

Bonessi declined to comment without consulting his lawyer.

Preliminary hearings in the Meadville District Court are scheduled for both Bonessi and Gratson April 29 and May 7.

Correction: The original report incorrectly stated that Pennsylvania State Police then intercepted the delivery, when the affidavits simply reported that the package was intercepted. Furthermore, former SAE president Michael Yarnell is a junior, not a senior as we reported. He provided his commentary to a reporter over the phone, not in an e-mail.

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