GLENDALE : Coach, Girlfriend Deny Drug Charges

A Crescenta Valley Little League coach and his girlfriend pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that they were selling cocaine out of their La Crescenta home, court officials said.

Michael Joseph Benedetto, 38, and Shannon Burris, 31, entered their pleas during an arraignment before Glendale Municipal Court Commissioner Daniel Calabro. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for July 26.

Benedetto and Burris face one count each of possessing cocaine for sale. Each remains free on $50,000 bond and could face a maximum of three years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

Attorney Stuart Goldfarb, who represented both defendants Tuesday, maintained that Benedetto and Burris were innocent but declined to elaborate.

Benedetto and Burris were arrested May 27 after Glendale police served a search warrant at a home the two share on the 2600 block of Altura Avenue. According to court documents, the warrant was obtained after an informant made a drug buy at the home using money supplied by investigators.

During the search, police seized two ounces of cocaine, valued at $9,000 on the street, and drug paraphernalia in a bedroom safe. Also taken were $1,038 in cash and two firearms.

Since February, Benedetto has been one of three coaches for a T-ball team for 7- and 8-year-old boys and girls and a softball team for 13- to 15-year-old girls in the Crescenta Valley Little League. He was placed on temporary suspension last month pending the outcome of his criminal case.

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