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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Greek Board finds Phi Psi not responsible for paper theft (w/ hearing transcripts)

The Greek Standards Board has found the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity not responsible for the theft of 10,000 Daily Wildcat newspapers on Oct. 8, according to the board’s official final report released on Friday afternoon.

In its final report, the Greek Standards Board outlined several reasons for its decision.

Information that worked against the Daily Wildcat during judicial deliberation included incidents surrounding the Spanish homework found among a pile of thousands of the stolen newspapers on West Anklam Road on Oct. 9.

Given that Daily Wildcat employees found the stolen newspapers, the board decided the evidence did not show the fraternity was responsible for the theft.

Instead of in an official court of law where the defendant must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, Daily Wildcat representatives were only charged with the task of showing the fraternity more likely than not responsible for the theft, according to official Greek Standards Board procedures.

The final report also cites Phi Kappa Psi’s police report issued to the University of Arizona Police Department on Oct. 9, where the fraternity claims that “”Phi Kappa Psi members saw individuals going through their trash can.””

4:30 p.m. update — The Dean of Students office contacted the Daily Wildcat on Friday to ask staff members if they could testify in the newspaper theft case.

Although the fraternity said the incident occurred on the night of Oct. 8 or the morning of Oct. 9, police records show that Phi Kappa Psi members did not call the police until 3:46 p.m., well after the Daily Wildcat reported finding the homework of Phi Kappa Psi members Alex Cornell and Nick Kovaleski at the scene of the stolen newspapers.

The Greek Standards Board hearing testimony of Advertising Manager Mike Spohn was also questioned in the board’s final report.

Spohn testified that he saw three individuals loading Daily Wildcat newspapers into a tan Toyota Camry on Oct. 8 around 8 a.m.

The board’s final report noted that the vehicle associated with the theft was never officially linked to Phi Kappa Psi and that the three men were not officially identified as belonging to the fraternity.

Also noted in the report was that “”only three men were ever seen taking copies of the Daily Wildcat,”” a finding proven false by witnesses who saw other individuals in a black car stealing newspapers on the morning of Oct. 8, information Daily Wildcat representatives expressed to the Greek Standards Board at the official hearing held on Wednesday.

The board also stated as a reason for its ruling that “”the Daily Wildcat stated that Phi Kappa Psi fraternity never denied involvement in the issue”” while presenting in the final report that the fraternity did deny involvement in an interview with Fraternity and Sorority Programs on Oct. 8 and also denied involvement in a letter sent to the Greek Standards Board prior to the hearing.

Daily Wildcat representatives never claimed Phi Kappa Psi leadership denied involvement, but rather that they had never denied involvement to the Daily Wildcat, according to written transcripts of the Greek Standards Board hearing that featured both Phi Kappa Psi and Daily Wildcat leadership.

The board found the two e-mails entered into evidence as showing Phi Kappa Psi responsible for the theft as unreliable, finding that in one case, the sender’s “”account could not be considered without the ability to question her in person,”” the final report said.

The other e-mail sender, mathematics freshman Brennan Vincent, submitted a letter to the Greek Standards Board stating his intentions regarding his e-mail message had been misconstrued, according to the report.

“”He wrote in his letter that he had implicated Phi Kappa Psi in his letter only because he didn’t believe the Daily Wildcat would print a letter where he solely stated that the reporting of the Daily Wildcat was irresponsible,”” the report said.


Cross Examiniation: 

Cross examination questioning of Daily Wildcat Managing Editor Shain Bergan by Phi Kappa Psi President Keith Peters:

Peters: It was stated that your director and Michael Spohn went out looking for the newspapers. Was there anybody else with them when they discovered they were missing?

Bergan: I believe it was just Mike and (Arizona Student Media Director) Mark (Woodhams) walking around. Obviously they were able to cover a lot of ground between the two of them.

Peters: OK, it was already stated by (Production Manager) Fred Smith that it takes his guys over an hour by truck, with two of them, to drive to 100 stands. What was the timeline like before they found out that all of the Wildcats were missing? Because you reported it to be around 9 a.m., and I just don’t understand how two people can walk to 100 stands around campus that it takes two men to drive over an hour.

Bergan: Well, we had other students calling in and telling us that papers were missing around stands around campus. And readers too, and readers were leaving comments online like, “”Do you know you have no papers out on campus?”” So, obviously it’s going to take less time for two guys to run out and check out a bunch of stands than it is for a couple of people to go out, jump out, grab a bunch of Wildcats, throw them in the car, somehow evade detection from everybody else and then drive away.

Peters: So are you saying these two guys did not actually visit all 100 stands to check for the Daily Wildcats?

Bergan: Did Mike and Mark cover all of the stands? Just on campus, or—?”” I don’t know if they visited every single one of them.

Peters: So would it be possible that students actually took the Wildcat to read?

Bergan: By 9 a.m.?

Peters: By some—at least some, if not most, of those stands?

Bergan: No, that never happens. This is all very immaterial.

Peters: OK

Bergan: That would’ve had to be a fucking kickass issue, though.

Peters: So how many stands do you think they could’ve visited in that timeframe, in an hour or less than an hour?

Bergan: Are you asking me to speculate?

Peters: Yes, to the best of your ability.

Bergan: I don’t know if I can speculate. I’m not them. I didn’t see them. I got up when they sent me an e-mail around 9:00 saying that all our papers were stolen.

Peters: Sure, OK. I guess this question might not seem like it pertains to the case, but if I asked you right now if you wanted to go to Gentle Ben’s after this, and you said, “”No, I don’t want to go there,”” would you think that would be a correct response?

Bergan: Are you asking if I want to go to Gentle Ben’s with you?

Peters: I just need a simple yes or no.

Bergan: I’d probably ask you why you stole all my newspapers.

Peters: Would you think that that—Can I have an actual answer?

Bergan: Would I go to Gentle B—I don’t understand. I don’t understand.

Chief Justice Jimmy Grout to Bergan: Please answer the question.

Peters: Would saying, “”I don’t want to go there,”” referring to Gentle Bens as—would that be a proper response? Would you use that response? Would you say that is reasonable to say that?

Bergan: (Kovaleski) didn’t say “”there””. He said “”out there””. This is the western outskirts of Tucson where these papers were. Obviously he said “”out there”” because he knew where he had dumped some of them.

Peters: I’m just asking for a yes or no.

Bergan: I might say, “”Yeah, I’ll go there with you.”” I might not say “”out there””.

Peters: OK.

 

Daily Wildcat’s statement to the Greek Standards Board following the calling of witnesses

Managing Editor Shain Bergan:

On Oct. 8, about 10,000 copies of the Daily Wildcat were noticed missing from the stands. That number, I should clarify, came from the director of Arizona Student Media, Mark Woodhams, who actually went out that day and walked the stands, walked the routes. Unfortunately, he could not be here tonight, but that’s where that number came from.

So that being said, the distribution comes in (at) about 6:30. We heard that (from Production Manager Fred Smith’s testimony). We actually received an email from our director of Arizona Student Media, Mark Woodhams, about 9 o’clock, and it takes them this whole time between, as we heard in the testimony before, 6:30 to 8 to get all these newspapers out, which means in this two-hour, two-and-a-half hour span, whoever took these papers took 10,000 newspapers in two hours, two-and-a-half hours, so there’s some common sense here.

That being said, two people did not do this. Two people did not take 10,000 newspapers. We already have (Advertising Manager) Mike Spohn’s testimony saying he saw at least three people. We know from witnesses who we couldn’t get to testify who had spoken to us and who we did quote in the stories, saying they had seen different vehicles going around campus and people taking newspapers from the stands.

So I don’t see this as individuals acting out. I see it as a collaboration of several people. The next day, the homework was found in the pile of stolen Daily Wildcats out on West Anklam Road. That homework didn’t just get up and get out there. Somebody took it out there, and when I had actually called—I’d actually called Nick Kovaleski and Alex Cornell. I had gotten their phone numbers from the Greek pages. I called them up on Oct. 9, and I told them that a pile of a few thousand Daily Wildcats had been stolen and that his homework along with Alex Cornell’s, was found at the scene.

I didn’t even mention where they were found. I didn’t even say they were on the western outskirts of Tucson, and his exact quote he told me—he didn’t deny it was his homework—he said, “”I don’t know how my homework got out there.””

So, we went to Phi Kappa Psi—I myself did, and made contact with the president and vice president, who did not deny taking the newspapers, instead had told us to get off their property, and we did. But we did ask them, “”If you guys didn’t do it, just tell us you didn’t do it.””

They said, “”We’re not supposed to talk to the media,”” but it seems to me if you didn’t take these newspapers, you would just say, “”No I didn’t take them,”” instead of, “”I’m not supposed to talk to the media.””

Now, I did speak with (Phi Kappa Psi President) Keith Peters that Friday—so, Oct. 9—and he had told me that they were launching an internal investigation. To this day, I have seen no evidence of such an internal investigation. Peters, Cornell and Kovaleski have continually not returned Daily Wildcat phone calls, so I’ve still not seen any internal investigation efforts going on, so I don’t know if that’s just lip service or whatnot.

UAPD has closed the case, which came out in our issue today. They hadn’t questioned any members of Phi Kappa Psi, but they had attempted twice to call Nick Kovaleski and Alex Cornell, and at one point, tried to e-mail Keith Peters. Those were all failed, except for one that went through to Cornell. Cornell, instead of talking to the police, instead of being open with the police—it’s one thing to say, “”We don’t talk to the media.”” It’s quite another to say, “”We’re not going to call the police back. We’re not going to talk to the police.”” If you’re innocent, I don’t see why you’re not going to talk to the police and try to get your story out there.

So, the one phone call that did get through got through to Cornell, and he deferred comment to Keith Peters, the Phi Psi president. It seems to me, if this was a case of individuals stealing papers, if this was a case of people gone rogue, if this wasn’t a case of the fraternity collaboration itself, why would Cornell defer comment to the Phi Psi president? Wouldn’t he be dealing with it individually on his own if it had nothing to do with the fraternity? What possibly could come from deferring the police to the Phi Psi president if the Phi Psi president had nothing to do with this? How would he be able to help? If this isn’t a whole fraternity collaboration, what would he know? What would he be able to tell the police?

I do have the police report here for you guys, if you want to check up on the information here. (hands the police report to the justices)

Another question that’s been raised has been one of whether or not this is theft, because a lot of people might say, “”The newspapers are free. How could it be theft?”” I can assure you, it is theft, for a few reasons, one of which Mike Spohn spelled out to you guys, which was that we have an obligation to advertisers that we are going to reach our circulation, which is 13,000.

So, we have an obligation to our advertisers to reach those 13,000 people on campus with these ads. When 10,000 are stolen, that’s 10,000 sets of these ads that aren’t going out. And that’s tons of advertisers calling us up wanting to get money back from their ads, and that’s exactly what happened.

The number that was given (by Spohn), the $5,000 to $5,500, know that that’s just ad revenue. It’s worth noting the salary of the people who put out the paper, the people who wrote the stories, because basically these people were paid for a newspaper that doesn’t exist. They’re basically paid for a newspaper that never saw the light of day, so that’s lost revenue in and of itself. So I can assure you because of all of these things, this absolutely is a crime. This was a loss of thousands of dollars and we’re still paying for it this day. So if there’s any questions about whether it was theft, whether it was a crime, I can assure you it was.

Now, in the past several days, we’ve received two e-mails of interest implicating the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity in this theft. I’ll be giving this to you guys here. (hands a printed e-mail message to the justices). A mathematics freshman named Brennan Vincent sent us this e-mail, in which he says he has friends in Phi Psi who basically told him beforehand they were going to steal the newspapers and that the theft came under the orders of Phi Psi leadership specifically.

This e-mail was actually sent to us on Oct. 13. It kind of get caught up in the server and whatnot. It came to light within the last several days.

Another e-mail that surfaced in the past couple of days. (hands another printed e-mail message to the justices) A pre-nursing sophomore named (Daily Wildcat is withholding the name for safety) claims to have a cousin in Phi Psi, and she sent us an e-mail saying that Phi Kappa Psi stole the Daily Wildcats for a couple of reasons.

One, she says, is for revenge for what they believe to be a slanted article in the death of a Phi Psi member, Andrew Segal, in March. It should be worth noting that when we did go and question Phi Psi leadership on Oct. 9, we were basically pelted with personal attacks and, “”You didn’t care when our brother died, so why do you care about us now?”” So, we hadn’t even brought that up at all, so that’s obviously something that’s still stinging them to this day.

The second reason that (the pre-nursing sophomore) had given in her e-mail as to why Phi Psi had taken the papers was to cover up a Police Beat item that was slated to run on Oct. 8 that made mention of a woman who claimed to have been drugged at a Phi Kappa Psi party on Sept. 26.

I have that Police Beat item here. Here’s that. (hands a printout of the Oct. 8 Police Beat to the justices)

You know, to this day I have yet to hear Keith Peters or the vice president of Phi Psi deny stealing these newspapers. I’ve not heard members of Phi Psi come out and say, “”We didn’t do this,”” and that seems highly suspect to me.

Now, all this evidence, I believe, shows more likely than not that Phi Psi is responsible for this mass theft of 10,000 Daily Wildcat newspapers. Have I proven through all this that they’ve done it? It’s my understanding that that doesn’t matter. That’s not the barometer. But I feel like this evidence has clearly shown that it’s more likely than not that they’ve carried out this theft.

And from what I’ve understood from Greek Life, that is the barometer—””more likely than not.”” So I believe this all clearly shows that.

You know, there’s a lot of circumstantial evidence here, but I think you have to ask yourselves, would there be so much circumstantial evidence if Phi Psi wasn’t more likely than not responsible for the theft of 10,000 Daily Wildcat newspapers.

Again, just to reiterate, two people did not do this. Let’s use some common sense here. It’s not even the full two-and-a-half hour window from 6:30 to 9:00 if you think about it, because we start distributing on campus at 6:30. We end distributing at 8:00. So using some common sense here, two people or a couple of rogue individuals did not go out and steal 10,000 newspapers, throw them in their car and drive out to West Anklam.

It was obviously a collaborative effort. Look guys, Phi Kappa Psi stole our newspapers. We’re looking for retribution here. We’re looking for justice. UAPD has already turned their back on this case in the face of some glaring evidence. It’s been shown that, apparently, you can just not return phone calls and get away from UAPD.

I hope you guys are more stringent than that. I hope you guys really seek justice on this. You guys are really our last hope for justice here. And I feel like on Oct. 8, not only was the Daily Wildcat attacked, but free speech was attacked. And anything but a guilty verdict against Phi Kappa Psi would show that free speech is dead on the UA campus, but censorship is still alive and well.

And that would be a sad day. Please do not let this slip through your fingers. We’re counting on you.

That’s all I have to say.

 

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