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Cops: Ex-star athlete arrested in East End crack ring

Suffolk Community College's no. 35 Charles

Suffolk Community College's no. 35 Charles "Maurice" Manning drives against Westchester Community College's no. 42 Calvin Murphy in the first half of the game. Suffolk would finish the season undefeated with a 34-0 record. (Feb. 7, 2004) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

A former Long Island high school and college basketball standout has been arrested and charged with running an East End drug-dealing ring that sold crack, authorities said Tuesday in announcing federal indictments.

Southampton Town police and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration on Monday arrested the ex-star, Charles Maurice "Mo" Manning, and four of his underlings on charges that they dealt crack to customers who were undercover officers.

Investigators recovered 4 ounces of crack - worth thousands of dollars on the street - along with scales and packaging material.

Manning, 29, of Huntington Crossway in Bridgehampton, was a star player for Suffolk County Community College and a key member of Suffolk's 2003 and 2004 national championship teams.

He's accused of using his Bridgehampton home and another in Riverhead to distribute the drugs. Manning was arraigned on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine base and nine counts of distribution of crack, said Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the Eastern District of New York.

Also arrested on related charges were: Kareem S. Coffey, 29, of Noyack Road, Noyack; Terrence K. Johnson, 34, of Hill Street, Southampton; Allen T. Hopson, 32, of Pioneer Road, Southampton; Raymond E. Gilliam, 27, of Huntington Crossway, Bridgehampton.

All were ordered held without bail, except Gilliam, who was released after his uncle posted as bond his $300,000 home, the court clerk said.

Manning was a 6-foot-2 swingman for Suffolk, which won 52 consecutive games and back-to-back National Junior College Athletic Association III championships. After the second championship, he went to Virginia Union University on scholarship and played in the 2006 NCAA Division II national championship game, where his team lost to Winona State. Before that, he was on three state championship teams at Bridgehampton High School.

"He had a great opportunity 10 years ago, and he just chose the wrong path," said Southampton's Sgt. James Kiernan.

Told of the arrest, Manning's Suffolk coach, Rich Wrase, said, "Today, there are many different worlds a kid can go into."

With Robert E. Kessler

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