NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — A New Bedford Bears youth football league coach will not be coaching this upcoming season after he was charged with heroin distribution, despite a judge apparently clearing the way for him to do so.
Sharik Mendes, 39, was arrested as part of a massive federal drug trafficking sting. According to the federal affidavit, agents had an informant buy cocaine and heroin from him several times in late 2015 and also gained access to his phone and text message records. Investigators alleged that Mendes was being supplied with heroin by two people in Providence and was part of a massive distribution operation in southeast Massachusetts. He was charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin and possession with intent to distribute heroin.
Federal investigators noted in the affidavit that Mendes has a prior criminal record that includes convictions for kidnapping, assault and battery on a police officer, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
On August 2, a federal probation officer met with Mendes, who told the officer that Mendes “plans on coaching a Pop Warner football team, an activity that he has done in the past.” The officer wrote to the federal judge hearing the case that he did not think Mendes should be allowed to coach, but asked the judge to make that decision.
But on Thursday, the judge ruled that Mendes could continue coaching as long as he notified parents of the case against him and submitted signed notes to his probation officer to that effect.
Condemnation of the decision came quickly from New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, who posted a statement on his Facebook page:
I call upon the league, the New Bedford Bears, which has a successful track record of mentoring children to put the welfare of children before any personal allegiance to Mr. Mendes. And for the U.S. Probation Office to ask the court to reconsider its decision.”
Eyewitness News left messages for Bunny Conceicao, who has run the New Bedford Bears Pop Warner football league for 30 years, regarding Mendes but has not yet heard back. She told the New Bedford Standard-Times on Friday that Mendes would not continue as a coach. “Absolutely not, he’s not on the roster,” she told the paper. Earlier in the week she had said she was waiting to see how the case resolved before making that decision.
According to court records, Mendes is scheduled to plead guilty to the new charges at a September hearing.