State

Riverbank City Councilman White pleads not guilty to drug possession

Riverbank City Councilman Jesse James White pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of possession of cocaine and marijuana.

White's supporters formed a human barricade around him before a hearing in Stanislaus County Superior Court, shielding his face from a camera and onlookers in the downtown Modesto courthouse's hallway.

One of those who guarded the 21-year-old White was Charles Neal, a former Riverbank mayor.

White will be back in court Friday for a pre-trial hearing. Then, on June 23, Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff will hear testimony, after which he must decide if White should stand trial on one count of felony possession of cocaine and two counts of misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

If convicted, White could face up to three years in prison or be placed on probation.

Authorities said marijuana and cocaine were found in White's home and marijuana was discovered in his vehicle during a probation search last month.

White's attorney, Modesto attorney Mary Lynn Belsher, said Thursday she believed her client was innocent and would give proof the drugs belonged to someone else.

White finished last in a six-person Republican primary Tuesday in the 25th Assembly District, which stretches from Modesto to Madera.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at mbalassone@modbee.com or 578-2337.

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