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Deans end firework investigation; judge lets Brasno charges stand

The University has ended its investigation into a March incident in which a firecracker was thrown in a crowded Palestra during a Princeton-Penn basketball game.

"I think it is safe to say that the investigation into this incident is now closed," said Kathleen Deignan, associate dean of student life.


The end of the investigation comes, however, as the criminal case against Jason Brasno '98 continues to move toward trial. Brasno has been charged by the Philadelphia District Attorney's office with two felonies and three misdemeanors in connection with the incident. Tuesday, Philadelphia circuit court judge Frank Brady upheld those charges in a preliminary hearing at which Brasno's attorney, Richard Brown '87, asked that the case be dismissed.

"He asked for the defendant to be held only on a violation of a city ordinance," said the prosecutor, assistant district attorney Mary-Ellen Judd of Brasno's attorney, Brown.

That request was turned down based on the testimony of several witnesses called by the prosecution. Among those testifying against Brasno was John Alexander, the fan who filed the initial complaint.

"The charges are being brought based on injuries to him," said Judd. Alexander was one of several fans who sustained minor injuries from falling embers when the firecracker exploded in midair during the March 3 basketball game's second half.

Among those also testifying on behalf of the prosecution were University of Pennsylvania police detectives and Penn's fire marshall, Judd said.

The wrong guy

Though Brown declined to comment on the matter, Judd said the defense attorney had argued that someone else was responsible for the explosion. "I believe the way he said it was, 'The wrong person has been arrested,' " Judd said.


The next step in the criminal justice process is an arraignment, which has been scheduled for May 5. Yesterday, Judd said the end of the University's investigation had not affected the criminal case, which she said is likely headed for a trial by jury.

In terms of the University's investigations, which are always independent of any criminal proceedings, Deignan cited University policy in not commenting on the status of individual students.

Brasno could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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