Avengers' Coe Indicted, Surrenders to Authorities

Times Staff Writer

Cornelius Coe, a starting defensive specialist for the Avengers, has been charged with multiple cocaine-related felony counts, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.

He is in custody awaiting transport to Michigan.

Coe, 28, could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted of all charges, said Phillip Green, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, which is headquartered in Grand Rapids.

Coe and another man, Russell Ryan, were named in an indictment that was handed down Wednesday by a Michigan grand jury after a federal investigation that also involved state and local law enforcement agencies, Green said by phone Thursday night.

A Michigan judge signed warrants for Coe's and Ryan's arrest on Wednesday. Coe turned himself in to U.S. Marshals at the federal courthouse in Los Angeles on Thursday morning.

In the first count of the seven-count indictment, Green said, Coe and Ryan are charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine in excess of 500 grams. The conspiracy charge runs from January 1999 to February 2004 in Marquette County, located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Green said.

Coe and Ryan are charged in a second count, Coe is charged individually in three others for distributing cocaine in 2002, and Ryan is charged individually in two counts, according to Green.

Before the Avengers practiced on Thursday at West L.A. College, players were informed that Coe would not play in Sunday's home opener against San Jose because of a legal situation.

"I told [the players] ... 'Cornelius has personal legal issues that he has to deal with immediately. He won't be with us this week, and I don't know about the following weeks,' " Coach Ed Hodgkiss said.

Coe signed with the Avengers on March 14, 2003, and played in 11 games last season. He led the team with 83 tackles and intercepted four passes.

Coe started the Avengers' first two games. He had one of the team's franchise-record four interceptions in the opener against Arizona and had six tackles in Saturday's 62-55 victory at Las Vegas.

Coe was born in Chicago, attended high school there and played at Northern Michigan University. He played in arenafootball2, the Arena Football League's development league, then joined the AFL's Indiana Firebirds for the 2001 season and made a league-record 121.5 tackles. After the 2002 season, the Las Vegas Gladiators selected Coe in the expansion draft.

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