Los Angeles Preps: Sean Coen

Santa Margarita notified parents Thursday through a letter that it had fired two assistant football coaches who pleaded guilty to a marijuana possession charge during the season. In its letter, the school explained that it didn't have all the facts when it allowed fulltime employee and receivers/defensive backs coach Sean Coen and walk-on receiver coach Robert Hendricks to continue in their role on the team through the season.

In a letter last week to parents, the school had defended its role, citing that the Diocese of Orange had made the determination about whether the men could coach and what punishment they would serve.

Santa Margarita won the Southern Section Pac-5 title as well as the Division I State Bowl game, the latter on Dec. 16.

After the convictions became publicized on Dec. 22, the school launched an internal investigation.

The letter Thursday from Principal Ray Dunne and President Paul Carey revealed a clearer timeline of how much the school knew and when. Basically, Coen and Hendricks were not forthcoming with their situation; they didn't notify head coach Harry Welch, the athletic department or the school of their legal issue. They didn't find out about Coen's involvement until the first week of October, and Hendricks until November.

According to the school's account, on Dec. 14, 2010, police responded to a noise complaint at a residence Coen and Hendricks shared with Charles Spann, a line coach at St. Margaret's. It was then that police discovered a marijuana growing operation in their garage, including a "pay-owe" ledger and a list of marijuana dispensaries. Additionally, there were hundreds of plants, along with five one-gallon bag of dried marijuana that weighed more than a pound. Although they were not arrested at that time, they received letters later saying they were being charged with two felonies, one for cultivating marijuana and the other for having it to sell.

On Sept. 15, 2011, the day that Santa Margarita played its third game, the three men took a plea deal, agreeing to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possessing more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, as well pleading guilty to an infraction for possessing less than 28.5 grams. After 18 months probation, after paying $500 to the Victim Wellness Emergency Fund and serving 90 days in jail -- they instead took an option of participating in a work furlough program instead of going to jail -- they could apply to have the misdemeanor stricken from their record, leaving only the infraction.

Below is the content of the letter:

(Read full post)

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.

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