O.C.: St. Margaret's fires coach, who had second arrest

St. Margaret's said Friday that it fired an assistant football coach who had pleaded guilty in September to a December 2010 charge of possessing marijuana -- along with two assistant coaches at Santa Margarita High -- but the school explained that it didn't fire him for that reason.

Instead, line coach Charles Spann was fired on Dec. 5 after it was learned he had a second arrest in August in which he was charged with two felonies, for forgery of public or corporate seals, and for unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

Spann, 25, was discovered in a parked car on Aug. 22 in San Juan Capistrano. He allegedly had two grams of marijuana with him, along with five Vicodin pills, and a fake driver's license that had his photo but someone else's name.

The school acknowledged Friday that it knew of Spann's December 2010 arrest but agreed to keep him on the coaching staff; however, he was terminated after the school learned about the second arrest.

In the 2010 incident, Spann and Santa Margarita coaches Sean Coen and Robert Hendricks lived together in a residence in San Juan Capistrano in which police discovered hundreds of marijuana plants, a lighting and watering system, and a "pay-owe" ledger that included a list of medical marijuana dispensaries. The three men were originally charged with two felonies for cultivation and possession to sell, but took a plea agreement to a reduced charge of misdemeanor possession; the misdemeanor charge could be stricken from their record if they completed the terms of their sentence, leaving only an infraction for possession of less than 28.5 grams of marijuana on their record.

The terms of 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.

Coen and Hendricks were fired Thursday after more details about their involvement became known to Santa Margarita administrators.

Also Thursday, Spann told the Orange County Register that he had a prescription for the use of medical marijuana but declined to say what his medical condition was; he also implied that he was still employed by the school and had not yet determined what his plans were for 2012. He has pleaded not guilty to the more recent charges and has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Jan. 5 in Orange County Superior Court.

Below is the statement from St. Margaret's:

St. Margaret's pursues a rigorous and thorough employment process. All potential employees including all part-time, temporary coaches, etc. are screened through reference checks, the California Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Mr. Charles Spann was first offered a position at St. Margaret’s as a part-time, temporary, assistant football coach on March 11, 2010 with the understanding that he had to be cleared with the Department of Justice. We received DOJ clearance on March 12, 2010 and Mr. Spann was extended a temporary contract from May 17 to December 11, 2010. Based on his performance as a coach, Mr. Spann was then rehired as a part-time, temporary, assistant football coach in the spring of 2011. Importantly, at that time we had not received any notice of concern from the DOJ or the FBI.

On September 26, 2011, we received notice from the California Department of Justice that Mr. Spann had been arrested on December 14, 2010 and that he eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana. We immediately confronted Mr. Spann who was open in his explanation of his involvement. After careful thought and consideration, we decided to allow Mr. Spann to continue in our employ with the clear understanding that any future transgression on his part would result in his immediate dismissal.

On Friday, December 2, 2011 we were informed by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office that Mr. Spann had been arrested on additional drug related charges. Mr. Spann was immediately confronted and on Monday, December 5 he was informed that his employment with the school was terminated effective immediately, that he was not to participate in any end-of-season football team activities, that he was not to contact any of our football players, and that he would not be rehired for the 2012 football season.