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Paterson high school basketball coach charged with drug offenses and attacking cops

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Jimmie D. Smith, a 41-year-old freshman basketball coach at John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson, has been charged with dealing cocaine and assaulting several law enforcement officers.

A veteran Paterson high school basketball coach and teacher's aide has been arrested on drug charges after allegedly injuring several police officers as he tried to flee, authorities said.

Jimmie D. Smith, 41, of Paterson, was charged Wednesday night with drug offenses and assaulting several law enforcement officers after he was captured outside of a Home Depot on McClean Avenue in Paterson by detectives with the state Division of Criminal Justice, Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said today.

Smith, head coach off the freshman basketball team at John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson, remains at the Passaic County jail in lieu of $500,000 bail, Hoffman said. He has been charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Prosecutors believed he was dealing the drug, Hoffman said.

“It’s alarming that this man, who worked so closely with young students as a high school coach and instructional aide, also allegedly was involved in drug dealing,” Hoffman said in a statement. “It’s fortunate that our detectives uncovered his alleged double life and arrested him, because there’s absolutely no room in our schools for criminals.”

Smith was sitting in his sport utility vehicle in the Home Depot parking lot around 7 p.m. Wednesday when detectives approached and identified themselves, authorities said. Smith tried to drive away and allegedly collided with one of the detective's cars before abandoning his truck and fleeing on foot, Hoffman said.

Detectives caught up to Smith a short time later, but he assaulted and injured two of them while the investigators struggled to place him in handcuffs, Hoffman said. Investigators seized seven grams of powder cocaine from the vehicle after the arrest, Hoffman said.

James Ring, the varsity basketball coach at Kennedy High, said in an interview this afternoon that he would be "shocked" if the allegations against Smith turned out to be true. He described the Smith as well-liked and said he had no history of disciplinary problems.

“He’s great with the kids. I’d highly recommend him for other positions if he was looking to coach in other places," Ring said. "To say I’m stunned and shocked is putting it mildly.”

Smith graduated from JFK more than 20 years ago, according to Ring, who said he was an all-Passaic County basketball star in high school who went on to play basketball at the University of New Orleans, a Division 1 school. The two last spoke on Monday, and Ring said Smith seemed fine and helped run conditioning drills for the team.

Ring said Smith has been the freshman coach for about 15 years.

“There’s no way that his could be true," he said.

Calls and e-mails to a spokeswoman for Paterson schools were not returned. A spokesman for the Attorney General's office said Smith was the only individual who was charged and declined to comment further.

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Comment by Ruff de Gehto Travler on August 30, 2013 at 8:43am

It's alarming that this guy worked so close to children obviously the person who said that must not realize where some of these children live and play!!! This is not abnormal he just got caught !!!! Sad but true!!

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