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Outside the Lines

Background checks, while highly recommended, may not be enough to ensure you know who's coaching your youth sports programs. Ongoing supervision also is a must.

For proof, look no further than 31-year-old Eric J. Humphrey, a bar owner who also coached a Pop Warner football team in Buffalo, N.Y. Last season, that team (with players between the ages of 11 and 15) was good enough to come within one win of advancing to the national championships at Disney's Wide World of Sports. But that on-the-field success is overshadowed by reported off-the-field behavior: While his players practiced, Humphrey allegedly was dealing cocaine in a nearby parking lot. In fact, he apparently was the leader of a drug ring busted earlier this week by federal officials. "He held himself out to be a pillar of the community while he was selling cocaine," Charles H. Tomaszewski, the agent in charge of the Buffalo office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, told The Buffalo News. "I find that to be unconscionable."

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Drug agents seized a pound of powdered cocaine, 4.5 ounces of crack cocaine and 21 kilo-sized cocaine wrappers from a "stash house" said to be operated by the coach. And Humphrey's bar, Good Life Sports Bar & Grill, is alleged to have been purchased with drug dollars, The News reported.

Humphrey and four co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to drug-conspiracy charges in federal court. That's no surprise. What is startling, though, is that not one parent or Pop Warner administrator ever noticed this guy conducting business when he should have been coaching their kids.

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