Church continued to pay Kevin Wallin until he was busted as part of a cross-country meth ring
Published Saturday, January 19, 2013, 8:41 AM
Updated Saturday, January 19, 2013, 8:41 AM
By CATHY HAYES, IrishCentral.com Staff Writer
A Connecticut priest has been charged with helping to run a cross-country methamphetamine distribution ring. Officials also believe his was laundering his drug money through the local sex shop he owned.
Monsignor Kevin Wallin (61), now nicknamed “Monsignor Meth” in the press, was reportedly removed from his duties at Bridgeport’s St. Augustine Cathedral last year when the Catholic Church discovered he was a cross-dresser who was having sex in the rectory. The Church continued to pay his stipend until he was arrested for selling meth to undercover police on six different occasions, reports the Connecticut Post.
According to his indictment, Wallin was selling up to $9,000 of meth per week.
Having been given a “sabbatical” by the Catholic Church Wallin bought an adult specialty and video store, which sells sex toys and X-rated DVDs. Investigators believe he used the store, in North Haven, called Land of Oz, to launder thousands of dollar every week.
Wallin is indicted with receiving drug shipments from suppliers in California. He then sold the drugs to undercover police officers, on six different occasions between September 2012 and 3rd January 2013, when he was arrested.
Kenneth Devries (52) of Waterbury, Michael Neslon (40) from Manchester, Chad McCluskey (43) from San Clemente, California, and Kristen Laschober (47) from Laguna Niguel, California were also arrested in connection to this alleged meth drug ring.
The former priest is being detained without bond pending an arraignment next week. If convicted Wallin could face up to 20 years in prison and fines of $2 million.
Previous reports had stated that Wallin had stepped down from his position in St. Augustine’s citing health concerns and person problems as the reason.
A statement from the Church, released by NBC read: “During his sabbatical, the Diocese became concerned about Msgr. Wallin’s well-being and have continued to reach out to him…To date, he has not spoken directly with diocesan officials.
“News of [his] arrest comes with a sense of shock and concern on the part of the Diocese and the many people of Fairfield County who have known him as a gifted, accomplished and compassionate priest.”
The Diocese officials have stressed that they had no information of Wallin’s involvement in selling drugs during his career as a priest.
Priest Charged In Meth Sting Tried To Open Sex Shop, Feds Say
The Hartford Courant
8:57 p.m. EST, January 18, 2013
By EDMUND H. MAHONY, email@example.com
The Hartford Courant
A Catholic priest indicted earlier this week for his role in a bicoastal, crystal methamphetamine distribution ring may have been trying to launder thousands of dollars in weekly drug profits through an X-rated video and sexual novelty store, according to authorities.
The indictment on narcotics charges Tuesday of Monsignor Kevin Wallin, 61, has stunned the Diocese of Bridgeport, where he formerly served in positions that included personal secretary to successive bishops, including Edward Egan, later appointed a cardinal.
Wallin’s last position was that of monsignor of the church’s principal parish in Bridgeport, St. Augustine’s. He resigned and was granted a sabbatical in 2011 for what the diocese called “health and personal issues,” amid signs of increasingly odd behavior.
“There was some concern about visitors to the rectory and some suspicion that he might be involved in behavior contrary to that expected of a priest,” said Brian Wallace, a spokesman for the Diocese of Bridgeport.
“Some things were reported that may have raised questions about what his lifestyle was.” Wallace said.
Wallace said the diocese had no idea that Wallin had become involved in the use and distribution of the powerful amphetamine known as crystal meth until it learned of his arrest and indictment.
A lengthy affidavit prepared by state and federal drug agents and made public this week presents allegations of substantial drug sales by Wallin for at least a year, his own addiction, and his efforts to obtain a sexually explicit adult retail shop in North Haven called the Land of Oz.
He is accused of buying crystal meth from a man and woman in southern California, Chad McCluskey, 43, of San Clemente, and Kristen Laschober, 47, of Laguna Niguel. Two other Connecticut men, Kenneth DeVries, 52, of Waterbury, and Michael Nelson, 40, of Manchester, also are charged in the conspiracy. Wallin is charged additionally with selling drugs to police undercover agents six times since September.
The conspiracy charges carry minimum sentences of 10 years. Wallin faces up to an additional 20 years on each of the additional charges, if convicted, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Authorities said in the affidavit and other documents filed in U.S. District Court that they first learned of Wallin’s alleged drug sales from an informant in New York in early 2012.
The informant claims to have met Wallin at a party and arranged to buy six ounces of crystal meth per week from Wallin at a price of $1,500 an ounce. The informant said he, in turn, sold the drugs to another dealer in New York.
The arrangement lasted only six weeks, the informant said, because Wallin become addicted to methamphetamine and was ordered by his employer to enter a rehabilitation program.
The employer is not named in the affidavit. Wallace said it was not the Diocese of Bridgeport, which was still paying Wallin an unspecified stipend when he was arrested earlier this month. Authorities took Wallin into custody on Jan. 3, before he was indicted, after learning he was preparing to leave for a vacation to England early in the new year.
Wallin lived in one of two apartments he rented at 22 Golden Hill St. in Waterbury. He allowed DeVries, known to friends as Lyme, to live in the second apartment. During the alleged rehabilitation, authorities said Wallin arranged for the informant to receive the drugs directly from California. At other times, they said DeVries sold drugs for Wallin.
Neighbors in Waterbury said they regularly saw people enter and leave Wallin’s apartment at night, but did not know he is a priest.
An undercover state trooper learned that Wallin was trying to buy the adult business in North Haven while buying drugs from him.
When the trooper inquired about buying drugs on Sept. 26, Wallin replied, ” Hi…You should be able to. However I can’t be certain if I’ll be home or in North Haven – where I am buying the Land of Oz store. So check with me about that. But otherwise it’ll be fine.”
Authorities said in the affidavit that, based on information from informants and other sources, they believe Wallin “may have invested drug proceeds in the store and may intend to use the store to launder his drug proceeds.”
Subsequent events and applications filed with zoning officers in North Haven suggest that Wallin may have obtained the inventory of the Land of Oz — explicit movie and sexual novelties — but not the store. The owner of the building housing the store has applied to operate a new “adult novelty” business called Fantasy Land Boutique in the space formerly occupied by the Land of Oz.
Wallin, before his arrest, had applied to North Haven to move the Land of Oz across town to space formerly occupied by a cafe on State Street. Wallin said he was making the application on behalf of a limited liability corporation known as Rahab and Endor.
According to the Bible, Rahab was a prostitute whose life God spared when Joshua and the Israelites destroyed Jericho. The Bible says the witch of Endor was a seer who foresaw the death of King Saul.
Wallin appears to have listed a phony address on his application.
Courant Reporter Denise Buffa contributed to this story.