HONOLULU (KHNL) - Two high school basketball coaches fired after allegedly giving alcohol to their players are taking their criminal cases to trial.
From the basketball court to district court, a former high school hoops coach is accused of committing a big-time foul.
"The community, the parents, we all need to know that we can trust our leaders, be it coaches, teachers," Renee Sonobe Hong, deputy prosecutor, said.
Russell Zablan was fired as head coach of the Lanai High School girls basketball team last year. He's accused of providing beer to seven of his players during the team's trip to Oahu in March 2005.
"This case is important because underage drinking is something that we all need to take seriously," Hong said.
Zablan's assistant coach Dale Kapua is also charged with seven counts of providing liquor to minors. The two appear in court the same day the law enforcement community launches an underage drinking hotline.
"It's just wrong to provide minors with alcohol," Lt. Governor James Aiona said. "Not only now are they facing criminal charges, but they've also, I think, destroyed their reputations as coaches."
Zablan was hired as the coach, despite a criminal record. He has convictions for disorderly conduct, domestic abuse and violating a protective order.
"If any record does show up, it really depends on the nature of the offense as to whether or not if affects employment," Greg Knudsen, state Department of Education, said. "For the most part, yes, everyone should be assured that the people at the schools are suited for those jobs."
Zablan asked for a jury trial. His Circuit Court arraignment is set for June 13th.