A suspended Catholic priest from Bridgeport suspected of trying to launder thousands of dollars a week in drug money through an X-rated sexual novelty store has indicated he will plead guilty next week to participating in a bi-coastal methamphetamine distribution ring. Monsignor Kevin Wallin, 61, faces a sentence of 10 years to life in prison if he follows through with his plan to changes his plea to guilty on a single charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute the powerful stimulate methamphetamine.
Wallin’s federal public defender filed notice in federal court Tuesday of the change of plea and a hearing has been scheduled for April 2, at noon, in Hartford. Neither Wallin, who is being held without bond, nor his lawyer could be reached Tuesday.The indictment of Wallin on narcotics charges in January 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.He was living at the time of his arrest in an apartment in Waterbury and is accused of selling methamphetamine he bought from suppliers in California. The West Coast suppliers are charged with Wallin, along with two Connecticut men.A arrest warrant affidavit prepared by state and federal drug agents presents allegations of substantial drug sales by Wallin for at least a year, his own addiction, and his efforts to buy 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 also charged with selling drugs to police undercover agents six times since September.All have pleaded not guilty.Authorities said in the affidavit and other documents filed at 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 became addicted to methamphetamine and was ordered by his employer to enter a rehabilitation program.The employer is not named in the affidavit. Brian Wallace, a spokesman for the Diocese of Bridgeport, said it was not the diocese, 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 that 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 was a priest.An undercover state trooper learned that Wallin was trying to buy the adult business in North Haven while buying drugs from him, the affidavit says.When the trooper inquired about buying drugs on Sept. 26, the affidavit says, 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 that 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 might 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.Edmund Mahony, The Hartford Courant