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Central Islip High School coach accused of selling cocaine

A Hauppauge man who is an assistant football coach for Central Islip High School's varsity football team was arrested Thursday on charges of selling cocaine to undercover officers several times in the past two years, officials said.

Gary Monge, 37, pleaded not guilty Thursday at his arraignment in federal court in Central Islip.

U.S. Magistrate Arlene Lindsay ordered him held without bail after prosecutors said they feared he would leave the country and he was a danger to the community.

Monge is accused of selling cocaine at least six times to undercover officers this year and last in the Islandia area. He sold 200 grams (7 ounces) of powder cocaine and 110 grams of crack to them, for a total of $12,000, officials said.

He is charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison.

Monge, who authorities said coaches an American-style football team called the Sharks in his native Costa Rica, has traveled there five times in the past year, Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Tierney said in making the argument against bail.

Officials said they don't believe Monge sold drugs to Central Islip High School students.

District Superintendent Craig G. Carr said he did not know how long Monge has been an assistant football coach. Monge is a part-time employee who does not teach in the district, Carr said.

The superintendent said law enforcement authorities had not notified the district of the arrest. He said he has had no complaints from parents about Monge. No determination has been made about Monge's continued employment, he said.

"We will do all we can to help authorities with the alleged incident," Carr said.

Monge had to undergo the background check required by the state education department before being hired, Carr said.

Also charged in the case was Mario Ruiz, 24, of Islip, according to court papers. Ruiz, who is accused of working with Monge in dealing cocaine, according to the criminal complaint, pleaded not guilty yesterday to the same charges.

Ruiz was denied bail. His attorney, Anthony Senft, of East Islip, declined to comment.

Tracey Gaffey, the public defender representing Monge at his arraignment, said he has little money and is a year behind on his home mortgage payments. She said he is a floor installer and is involved with community football here and in Costa Rica.

Outside the courtroom, Gaffey consoled Monge's mother and wife, who declined to comment.

Monge's arrest resulted from a joint operation by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Suffolk police, according to authorities. Sources said Monge's alleged activity came to the attention of the DEA and Suffolk police during separate drug investigations by the agencies, and that authorities have some evidence from wiretaps.

Monge, of 350 Lincoln Blvd., was arrested at his home Thursday. Prosecutors said officers found evidence there of cocaine packaging, scales and other drug paraphernalia.

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