San Pedro

A Long Beach Superior Court jury has found former Mary Star of the Sea High School drama teacher Joseph Cottone guilty on two of nine counts stemming from charges that he provided his students with alcohol and marijuana and encouraged them to masturbate with him while watching sexually explicit movies in his apartment more than a year ago.

Cottone, 34, of San Pedro, was found guilty only on two of four misdemeanor charges that he supplied alcohol to minors. He was found not guilty on four felony counts of providing marijuana and on a single sexual misconduct charge.

Cottone will be sentenced April 25 by Judge Charles Sheldon. The trial lasted a month. The jury deliberated for two days. Cottone could be sentenced to as much as a year in the county jail or fined $2,500 or both.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Tim Browne said, "I don't think (the jury's) overall findings were appropriate, but they are the finders of fact."

Neither Cottone nor his attorney, Henry Salcido, could be reached for comment.

Cottone was forced last January to resign from his position after nine years at Mary Star after he was arrested in December, 1983. The incidents allegedly took place between March and December, 1983.

Construction on an eight-story hotel in the downtown Beacon Street redevelopment area could begin as early as this summer, Los Angeles City officials said.

A Community Redevelopment Agency spokesman said the agency's board is expected to consider a contract within several weeks calling for developers Goldrich, Kest & Associates and L & M Walter Co. to build the 216-room structure. It would be the first high-rise hotel in San Pedro.

Manny Aftergut, project manager for the developers, said it is not yet known who will operate the hotel. Construction is expected to be completed late next year, he said.

The hotel will be situated between Centre and Palos Verdes streets and 6th and 7th streets.

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