|Ex-Priest Indicted on Meth Charges|
|By ALEXIS SHAW (@ashaw109)||Jan 19, 2013, 12:16 PM|
A former Roman Catholic priest from Connecticut has fallen from grace after being indicted on charges that he was part of an alleged cross-country crystal methamphetamine drug ring.
Former Monsignor Kevin Wallin, 61, of Waterbury, who was the pastor of the St. Augustine Parish in Bridgeport for nearly a decade, was one of five people indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday for allegedly transporting methamphetamine from Connecticut to California.
Also charged were Kenneth Devries, 52, of Waterbury; Michael Nelson, 40, of Manchester; Chad McCluskey, 43, of San Clemente, Calif.; and Kristen Laschober, 47, of Laguna Niguel, Calif.
Wallin was also charged with six counts of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams of methamphetamine since September, according to court documents.
Law enforcement officials say they believe he received shipments of methamphetamine from the West Coast and resold the drugs out of his apartment in Waterbury, ABC station WABC-TV in New York reported.
In addition, investigators suspect that Wallin may have owned an adult video shop in North Haven called Land of Oz that he allegedly used the store to launder the money he earned selling drugs, according to court documents.
The Diocese of Bridgeport released a statement saying that Wallin resigned as pastor of the Bridgeport parish in 2011, citing health and personal issues, and was granted a sabbatical.
The diocese said that Wallin's "faculties for public ministry were suspended in May 2012, and he has not been reassigned."
Despite that, the diocese continued to pay him a stipend until he was arrested on Jan. 3, the Connecticut Post reported.
Some of his former parishioners are shocked the man they esteemed as a "very honorable man of God" would be involved in such a scandal.
"I feel terrible about it. And we just keep praying from him, that's all. If these allegations are true, we pray he repents, makes his peace with God, like we all have to," a parishioner told ABC affiliate WABC.
If convicted, Wallin faces a minimum of 10 years in prison.