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Alumnus UpdateAlumnus John Boccabella, Beta Pi '64 Presides Over Spanier Sentencing

A recent Associated Press news release brought a distinguished Beta Pi alumnus into the national spotlight. John Boccabella, Beta Pi ’64, a Court of Common Pleas judge in Pennsylvania, presided over the sentencing of former Penn State President Graham Spanier. Spanier has remained out on bail since his 2017 conviction for misdemeanor child endangerment for his handling of a complaint about Jerry Sandusky showering with a young boy on the campus of Penn State University.

Judge Boccabella issued an order that Spanier spend a minimum of two months in jail and two months of house arrest. As part of his order, Judge Boccabella gave his approval for the jail time to be served at a jail near Spanier’s home in State College, Pennsylvania, subject to the approval of the county jail wardens, and that Spanier may participate in a work-release program.   

Brother Boccabella graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 1970 and was admitted to practice in Florida that same year. In 1973, he was admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

After many years of practicing law in Berks County, Pennsylvania, brother Boccabella was appointed to serve as a judge in that county’s Court of Common Pleas. He served until his retirement in January 2016.

Although he was retired, Judge Boccabella was called upon and appointed, by the Pennsylvania Chief Justice, to preside, in Harrisburg, over the criminal trials of three former Penn State administrators, Vice President Gary Schultz, Athletic Director Tim Curley, and President Graham Spanier. Judge Boccabella’s appointment was necessary as all Common Pleas Court Judges in Dauphin County recused themselves.

While at Penn, brother Bocabella graduated in 1967 from what was known at that time as the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce. He was heavily involved in Pi Kappa Alpha all four years he spent at Penn and learned how to handle a gavel when he served as SMC the latter part of his Junior year and nearly all of his Senior year.