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December 15, 2005

University Class President Robs Bank After Racking Up Poker Debt

Author: Gil Kaufman

Class president, son of a Baptist minister, second cello in the Lehigh University orchestra, chaplain's office assistant ... bank robber? Class of 2008 president Greg Hogan was arrested on Friday on charges of bank robbery, and now the sophomore

Authorities say Hogan, 19, handed a note to a teller at a Wachovia Bank branch in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, said he had a gun and demanded money, according to an Associated Press report. Hogan was picked up at his Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house later that night and charged with robbery, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property. Police said he got away with $2,871 during the heist, and FBI officials confirmed that Hogan did not have a weapon during the robbery.

On Wednesday (December 14) the Morning Call of Allentown newspaper revealed that the heist was the result of gambling debts Hogan had accumulated by playing poker online. A double major at the school, Hogan turned to online poker to take some of the pressure off his hectic school life, and, according to his lawyer John Waldron, he soon racked up debts of $5,000.

"This is one of the nicest kids I've ever met, but his gambling addiction led him to make a terrible, terrible mistake," Waldron told the Morning Call. "There's so much good in this kid. It easily outweighs this one bad mistake." He has hired a forensic psychologist to evaluate Hogan. "That's the million-dollar question," the lawyer said. "Why would such a good kid with so much promise do this? We know he had a gambling addiction, but why didn't he seek other options? That has everyone scratching their heads."

Fellow students were stunned by the news. Frat brother Patrick Thornton described Hogan as a very energetic guy who you wouldn't be surprised to see cheering on his college football team while wearing body paint and no shirt. "It's by far the most interesting story we've ever encountered here," said Thornton, editor of the student-run campus newspaper, The Brown and White.

The maximum penalty if Hogan is convicted of a first-degree felony is 20 years, while the max for a third-degree felony conviction is seven years and a $15,000 fine. District Attorney Jim Martin told The Brown and White that if Hogan is convicted he will likely face jail time.

Hogan was driven to the bank by the university's student Senate president, Kip Wallen, who said he had no idea Hogan allegedly intended to rob it, Wallen's lawyer told the AP. Wallen has not been charged in the case.

Hogan admitted to the crime and was released on Saturday after posting $100,000 bond. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for January 31.

The incident was all the more bizarre given Hogan's background. He was a 2004 graduate of the University School, an elite, all-boys private high school in the upscale Cleveland suburb of Hunting Valley, and his father is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Barberton in Barberton, Ohio, who has served as a city councilman in Seven Hills, Ohio.

Andrew Bennett, Hogan's friend since ninth grade, told The Brown and the White he was shocked when he heard about the incident. "Nobody expected Greg would do something like this," Bennett said, adding that students at the University School couldn't believe the news. "People at school were like, 'What, Greg Hogan?' " he said. "He would be like the least likely person to pull something like this off."

In the meantime, Hogan has been suspended from the fraternity pending the outcome of the trial and faces expulsion if convicted. Lehigh students charged with a crime go before the university's Office of Student Conduct, a disciplinary committee made up of teachers, staff and students. The committee decides what action to take, which could from a warning to expulsion.

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