The administration at Santa Margarita, on the heels of the publicizing of two of its football coaches pleading guilty to a marijuana possession charge, has responded by sending a letter to parents at the Catholic school.
Sean Coen, a school employee who coached receivers and defensive backs, and Robert Hendricks, a walk-on who coached receivers, were arrested Dec. 14, 2010, and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possession on Sept. 15. Both continued to coach for the remainder of the season -- 13 more games -- before the story was publicized by the Orange County Register, coincidentally the day it posted its final installment of the 17-week video series "Hard Knocks", The video featured Coen prominently throughout the series.
School President Paul Carey and Principal Ray Dunne indicated that Coen -- the assistant coordinator of strength and conditioning -- was placed on unpaid administrative leave, and that any further incidences would result in immediate termination. The school took the stance that evidence did not support that Coen and Hendricks were involved in the use or sale of marijuana. The decision was made in consultation with the Diocese of Orange, whose Human Resources Department conducted a review.
A third man, St. Margaret's line coach Charles Spann, was also included in the original charge. Orange County District Attorney spokeswoman Farrah Emami said that the three were arrested after a marijuana cultivation operation was discovered in the garage of a residence they shared in San Juan Capistrano. The garage housed a complete water and lighting system, a notebook that served as a "pay-owe" ledger with a list of medical marijuana dispensaries, and three mature plants, 229 immature plants and 32 marijuana clones. Also found were five one-gallon bags of dried marijuana that weight just over a pound.
The men were originally charged with two felonies, which were dropped in exchange for the guilty plea. According to Superior Court records, the three men were arrested Dec. 14, 2010, and each charged with one felony count of cultivation of marijuana, and one felony count of possession for sale of marijuana. In September they each pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana in excess of 28.5 grams, and one infraction for possession of marijuana less than 28.5 grams.
After completing their sentence, they can apply to have the misdemeanor possession charge stricken from their record, though the infraction will remain. Their sentence was 90 days in jail or participate in a community work program (which they chose), pay $500 to the Victim Wellness Emergency Fund, and complete 18 months of probation.