Frat's license revoked
Tenants will be barred for a year from living in the Moorhead fraternity house where a college student partied hours before he died last month. Moorhead revoked the rental license for the Phi Sigma Kappa house at 611 10th St. S. on Tuesday, barri...
Tenants will be barred for a year from living in the Moorhead fraternity house where a college student partied hours before he died last month.
Moorhead revoked the rental license for the Phi Sigma Kappa house at 611 10th St. S. on Tuesday, barring anyone not related to landlord Randy Morris from living there for 12 months starting Nov. 15.
The revocation is twice as long as the city's typical six-month suspension.
City action came only a day after Clay County prosecutors filed felony charges against seven members of the fraternity, accusing them of furnishing alcohol that led to the death of 19-year-old Patrick Kycia.
Those charges count as the property's third tenant conduct violation in the past six months.
That allows the city manager to revoke or suspend the rental registration.
The other two violations are an Aug. 20 report of a minor consuming alcohol and felony drug charges a tenant faces after police found one-third of a pound of illegal mushrooms in his room Sept. 27.
Nancy Taralson, community policing coordinator, said serious charges in such a short time period warranted the unprecedented penalty.
"This is the first one-year revocation that I've recommended," said Taralson, who proposes to City Manager Bruce Messelt the sanctions resulting from tenant conduct violations.
It is not unusual for the city to pull a rental registration. Moorhead has suspended or revoked 54 rental licenses since 1996 and 10 times since the start of 2004, according to city records. Tenant conduct was the cause for the action in eight of the 54 cases.
City officials delivered a letter informing Morris of the revocation Tuesday evening and will also send a copy via certified mail, Messelt said.
The landlord has 15 days to file for an appeal with the City Council. He could appeal to District Court from there.
Morris, who has declined interview requests in the past, could not be reached for comment.
The revocation applies only to the building's basement and first floor. The second floor is registered as a separate unit - 611½ 10th St. S. - and Morris can continue to rent it out.
The upper unit is not affected because there have been no reports of violations there, Taralson said.
Messelt said earlier he expected the city to take action against the property, but that it would wait until the police investigation was done.
"It's that old phrase, move as fast as you can but as slow as you must," he said.
According to the court complaint filed Monday:
Witnesses told police Kycia, a Minnesota State University Moorhead sophomore, drank beer and whiskey he did not bring with him to the party.
In the basement, fraternity members were selling beer for $1 per can and passing around bottles of community liquor, witnesses said.
One witness saw Kycia leaning his head against a wall as if he were asleep and staggering in a neighbor's driveway as he left the house.
Police pulled Kycia from the Red River four days after the party with a blood alcohol level double the legal limit to drive.
The seven fraternity members arrested Sunday on the felony charges are: Marcus Osmond Carney, 21; Joseph Erhart Henschel, 22; Nicholas Reed Gulmon, 25; Christopher Michael Sayre, 20; James Joseph Sander Jr., 23; Jason John Morris, 26; and Jesse Alan Bridley, 20, all of Moorhead.
The seven also face gross misdemeanor charges of selling alcohol without a license and procuring alcohol for a person under 21.
Moorhead police also arrested Evan Michael Narog, 22, and Raymond Joseph Ogren, 25, for the same gross misdemeanor charges.
All of those charged are MSUM students except Gulmon.
Court records only list Narog and Henschel as residents of 611 10th St. S. Jason Morris, the landlord's son, listed his father's Fargo address.
Jason Morris declined to comment Tuesday, Henschel hung up on a reporter and Narog did not return a phone message.
The national Phi Sigma Kappa organization has suspended the Moorhead chapter, pending the result of an investigation, the grand chapter's executive director said in a statement Monday.
Messelt said officials from the city's fire and neighborhood services departments will monitor the rental unit to make sure there are no tenants living there.
The upstairs apartment will also be closely watched to ensure it does not house more than the city limit of four unrelated people, he said.
Morris will have to reapply for a license in November 2006 if he wants to continue renting the property.
If it is sold during the revocation period, the city could grant a license to the new landlord, Messelt said.
Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple contributed to this report. Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535