A Connecticut Roman Catholic priest has admitted to earning more than $300,000 from methamphetamine sales that he conducted from his apartment.
Kevin Wallin, a 61-year-old priest from Waterbury, Conn., plead guilty to federal charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine on Tuesday. Wallin also operated an adult video and sex toy shop, Associated Press reports.
Wallin is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25, and faces between 11 to 14 years in a federal prison.
According to the Associated Press, the 61-year-old acquired his supply of meth from contacts in California, who shipped the drugs through the mail. He would then sell the meth out of his Waterbury apartment. Prosecutors allege that Wallin purchased Land of Oz & Dorothy’s Place, an illicit video and sex toy shop, as a means of laundering the dirty money.
During Tuesday’s federal court hearing, Wallin admitted to running an operation that involved almost four pounds of methamphetamine, AP reports. He answered “yes” to several of the judge’s questions as to whether he understood the consequences of his admissions.
Wallin, who was formerly a pastor at St. Augustine Parish in Bridgeport, remains in police custody. According to AP, he did not appear to have any supporters in the federal courtroom.
Police have also charged four other people in connection with the methamphetamine ring. The cases against these defendants are still pending.
"We're glad to have resolved this part of the case," Connecticut U.S. Attorney David B. Fein said after the hearing, AP reports. "It's a serious conspiracy charge involving a very dangerous drug."
Wallin’s attorney, a public defender named Kelly Barrett, declined to comment on the case.
The 61-year-old priest, who earned the nickname “Monsignor Meth” for his criminal activities, spent nine years at St. Augustine Parish, before resigning for health reasons in 2011. He also spent six years as pastor of St. Peter’s Church, another Connecticut institution.
"Msgr. Wallin's guilty plea represents an important step in his coming to terms with his own actions and their impact on others," the Diocese of Bridgeport said in a recent statement. "It is a difficult moment for all of us, but we hope it is also the first step in rebuilding his life. We pray that he moves toward healing and wholeness."
According to diocese spokesperson Brian D. Wallace, Wallin had already been suspended since last May for a number of transgressions, including sexually inappropriate behavior in the church rectory, AP reports. Wallace added that church leaders did not become aware of Wallin’s drug-dealing until after the initial suspension.
Wallace suggests that Wallin faces the process of laicization, or formal removal from the priesthood by the Vatican itself, AP reports.
Wallin was first arrested in January, after selling meth to an undercover police officer on six separate occasions from Sept. 20 to Jan. 2. Authorities said that the 23 grams of meth that they purchased were worth $3,400, AP reports. Additionally, federal agents used informants and wiretaps to implicate Wallin in other illegal transactions.
Besides Wallin, Kenneth Devries of Waterbury, Michael Nelson of Manchester, and California residents Chad McCluskey and Kristen Laschober were charged with participating in the meth ring.
According to AP, the four additional defendants plead not guilty.