May 17, 2:30 PM EDT

California fraternity faces charges after trees cut down



SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Federal authorities have charged a fraternity at California State University, Chico with illegally cutting down dozens of trees in a national forest during an initiation of new pledges, the U.S. Forest Service said.

The complaint was filed Tuesday against the school's Pi Kappa Alpha chapter and its president, Evan Jossey.

The fraternity was charged with downing the 32 trees at a campground during a weekend initiation in April in Lassen National Forest in Susanville, about 300 miles (482 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

It also faces charges of possessing a firearm and conspiracy to commit offense or defraud the United States. A spokeswoman for the forest service was not immediately available to provide further details.

Jossey did not return a message sent Wednesday through the chapter's Facebook page.

Neither the national chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha nor Fraternity and Sorority Affairs at Chico State returned calls for comment on the charges.

Jossey and the fraternity are due in court next month.

It's the second time in a year that a college social organization has been accused of damaging a recreational area.

Last May, a Lake Shasta campsite was wrecked when hundreds of University of Oregon fraternity and sorority members left a half-mile-wide swath of trash after an annual trip, authorities said.

The national Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity suspended the activities of its University of Oregon chapter over the mess at Lake Shasta's Slaughterhouse Island. The sororities and fraternities later did service projects

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