The former chapter president of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity in San Luis Obispo has been arrested after police allegedly discovered marijuana at the house in the wake of an attempted armed robbery there last month.
On Thursday morning, officers served a search warrant at the fraternity house and found Gear McMillan, 22, of San Luis Obispo allegedly in possession of an undisclosed amount of marijuana.
On Aug. 10, five Cal Poly football players were arrested on suspicion of attempting to rob the home and are now facing felony conspiracy charges, among other accusations.
Investigators believe someone at the house in the 200 block of California Boulevard may have been selling marijuana, which served as a possible motive for the attempted robbery.
McMillan served as president until May and was an active member of the fraternity until his membership was suspended by Delta Sigma Phi’s national organization on Thursday, pending an internal investigation.
McMillan was booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sales and possession of a controlled substance in the form of nonprescription medication.
As of Thursday evening, McMillan remained in County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.
San Luis Obispo police Capt. Keith Storton on Thursday declined to release the amount of marijuana discovered but attributed the timing of the search, nearly a month after the attempted robbery, to the need to gather enough evidence to secure the search warrant.
A day after the robbery, McMillan told The Tribune that there were no drugs at the residence and disputed the implication that drugs were the motive behind the attempted robbery.
“It’s a shame because we were the ones who were held up at gunpoint; we were the ones in danger,” McMillan said on Aug. 11. “And the idea that this was somehow about drugs is shedding a negative light on us in the community. If anyone in our house was doing anything like that, we would all know.”
Delta Sigma Phi “will fully cooperate with authorities throughout the course of the investigation while we conduct an internal inquiry,” said Patrick Jessee, Delta Sigma Phi’s executive director and chief executive officer of the Indiana-based national organization, in a statement.
Jessee went on to say: “These allegations do not reflect actions congruent with Delta Sigma Phi values or the fraternity’s Code of Conduct. We will work to ensure all chapter members understand our policies; state, local and federal laws; and the importance of being positive contributors to the San Luis Obispo community.”
Following the search of the house, San Luis Obispo Police Chief Steve Gesell issued the following statement: “Today’s search warrant and subsequent arrest goes beyond the sale of marijuana. Drugs were a variable that precipitated an armed robbery attempt that put multiple lives at significant risk and resulted in the injury of our officers, officers that were willing to risk their own lives to protect the residents of this fraternity. For some of those very same people to deny culpability and brazenly continue to ‘do business’ without recognition of this fact is disturbing. We hope the real consequences levied today will ultimately have a positive impact in the lives of others.”
After the announcement of McMillan’s arrest, Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier said the university is cooperating with police in the ongoing investigation.
“There is no place for illegal activity at Cal Poly. We will take all necessary action to ensure student safety, well-being and success in the classroom and beyond,” Lazier wrote in an email. “All student conduct violations will be met with appropriate disciplinary action.”
Lazier said that, in light of one arrest of a Delta Sigma Phi member, the university currently isn’t sanctioning the fraternity chapter.
“Should the police investigation reveal any additional info, the university will re-examine that information and determine whether any additional steps need to be taken,” Lazier said.
Bob “Ace” Veazie, president of the Alumni Corporation Board, which owns and operates the San Luis Obispo Delta Sigma Phi fraternity house, said Thursday that McMillan, a Cal Poly nutrition major, has been one of the better leaders at the house and has participated in multiple service projects to benefit the community.
“Nobody knows whether he is innocent or guilty of these charges,” Veazie said. “I will be talking with the national fraternity to determine the protocol for this, but he is our brother, and we stand behind our brother.”
Veazie said he spends a lot of time at the house and was not aware of any problems there. “All we know is that he was arrested,” he said.
He said the house had been falsely accused of problems five times in the last year.
Veazie praised McMillan’s leadership at the fraternity, saying he led a campaign to raise more than $8,000 for Aware Awake Alive — an alcohol awareness campaign started by the parents of student Carson Starkey after he died following a fraternity hazing event.
“It is surprising to have this happening to somebody that has been such a positive impact and force in our fraternity,” Veazie said. “There is something here I don’t understand.”
Members of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity, contacted at the house on Thursday, declined comment, referring questions by telephone to the fraternity’s media relations representative, Connor “Bruce” Koch, a current Cal Poly student and fraternity member.
Koch released a statement, saying, “We as a brotherhood don’t condone or support any illegal activities nor do we have any knowledge of such activity. We will be cooperating fully with law enforcement officials to ensure that this matter is resolved in a fair and accurate way.”
All five Cal Poly football players suspected of roles in the attempted robbery have been arraigned in San Luis Obispo Superior Court but have yet to enter pleas.
They are scheduled to be back in court Sept. 15.
— Matt Fountain and Nick Wilson are staff writers at the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Contact them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Tribune staff reporter AnnMarie Cornejo contributed to this story.