CLARIFICATION: Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity president Austin Jackson James cooperated with police during the search of the fraternity home. He had no further involvement in the case. The article has been updated to reflect these changes.
Chapel Hill police seized 178 grams of marijuana and .21 grams of cocaine at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house last week.
UNC sophomore Nicholas William McHenry was arrested and charged with three felonies at the West Cameron Avenue home on Thursday, including possession of cocaine and possession with the intent to sell and distribute marijuana, according to an arrest report.
McHenry declined to comment for this story.
“All in all, this was an unfortunate, isolated incident,” Austin James Jackson, the president of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, said in an email.
“However, the chapter dealt with the situation immediately, and Nicholas McHenry has been expelled from the fraternity.”
“We are putting last week’s events behind us and are moving forward into the spring semester.”
Matthew Suczynski, a lawyer representing McHenry, said members of the fraternity were smoking hookah in the basement of the home which caused a fire alarm to go off two separate times Thursday.
When the Chapel Hill Fire Department responded to the second alarm, they believed they smelled marijuana and called the Chapel Hill Police Department.
The police officers secured a search warrant and uncovered the drugs at the house, Suczynski said.
As the appointed fire marshal for his fraternity, McHenry was the main point of contact between the members of the fraternity and the fire and police departments.
Suczynski said he questions whether the marijuana belonged solely to McHenry.
“I don’t know that there is evidence of that at all,” he said.
“Fraternities and sororities share a lot of common rooms.”
Suczynski said McHenry’s position as the fire marshal might have played a role in his arrest.
“The fire department and the Chapel Hill Police Department centered on him because he was the one interacting with them,” Suczynski said.
Suczynski said he is optimistic about McHenry’s case.
“The case is very early on,” said Suczynski, who was at the Sigma Phi Epsilon home the night McHenry was arrested.
“It’s early to draw conclusions.”
McHenry was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond early Friday morning.
McHenry is scheduled to appear in court today at 9 a.m.
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