To onlookers, Monsignor Kevin Wallin’s fall from grace at his Connecticut parish was like something out of “Breaking Bad,” the television series about a high school chemistry teacher who becomes a methamphetamine lord.
The suspended Roman Catholic priest was arrested on federal drug
charges this month for allegedly having methamphetamine mailed to him
from co-conspirators in California and making more than $300,000 in
drugs sales out of his apartment in Waterbury in the second half of last
Along the way, authorities said, he bought a small adult video and
sex toy shop in the nearby town of North Haven named “Land of Oz &
Dorothy’s Place,” apparently to launder all the money he was making. He
has pleaded not guilty, and jury selection in his trial is scheduled to
begin March 21.
On social media sites, people couldn’t help but compare Wallin with
Walter White, the main character on “Breaking Bad” who was making so
much cash that he and his wife bought a car wash to launder their
profits. He has also been dubbed in some media as “Monsignor Meth.”
Wallin, 61, was the pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Bridgeport for
nine years until he resigned in June 2011, citing health and personal
problems. He previously served six years as pastor of St. Peter’s Church
in Danbury until 2002.
He was granted a sabbatical in July 2011. The Diocese of Bridgeport suspended him from public ministry last May.
Diocesan officials become concerned about Wallin in the spring of
2011 after complaints about his appearance and erratic behavior, diocese
spokesman Brian Wallace told the Connecticut Post.
Some reports of his behavior were startling.
“We became aware that he was acting out sexually — with men — in the
church rectory,” Wallace told the newspaper, adding that church
officials deemed the sexual behavior unbecoming of a priest and asked
Wallin to resign.
Wallace didn’t return several messages left by The Associated Press.
“News of Monsignor Kevin Wallin’s 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 said in a statement on Jan. 16 after learning about
Wallin’s arrest. “We ask for prayers for Monsignor Wallin during the
difficult days ahead for him.”
Wallin’s arrest called attention to larger problems within the
church, said Voice of the Faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport, one of
many local chapters of the lay organization formed in response to the
sexual abuse crisis in the church.
“Catholics have to ask whether the mandatory obligation of celibacy
imposes a harmful burden on priests and whether women ought to be
admitted to the priesthood,” the group said in a statement.
decline in the number of priests, the aging of priests, the terrible sin
of pedophilia among priests, and the downfall of Monsignor Wallin are
all signs of a sickness in the priesthood. It is time to seek a remedy
for this awful malady that threatens the Eucharist, the center of
Elizabeth Badjan, a member of the St. Augustine congregation, told
The New York Times that Wallin needed the prayers of parishioners.
“This is all the work of evil,” she said as she left Mass last
weekend. “He was not close enough to God. He was tempted by the devil.”
Wallin’s case has drawn comparisons to that of the Rev. Ted Haggard, a
well-known evangelical megachurch pastor in Colorado who was forced out
of his job in 2006 after a male escort alleged Haggard had paid him for
sex and bought crystal meth.
Federal agents arrested Wallin on Jan. 3, and a grand jury indicted
him and four other people on drug charges on Jan. 15. All are charged
with one count of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a
substance containing methamphetamine and 50 grams of actual
methamphetamine, a crime that carries 10 years to life in prison upon
Wallin is also charged with six counts of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
Last July, Drug Enforcement Administration agents in New York told
agents in the New Haven office that there was an unidentified
Connecticut-based drug trafficker distributing methamphetamine in the
Two months later, an informant told the DEA that the trafficker
was Wallin, according to an affidavit by agent Jay Salvatore in New
The Connecticut Statewide Narcotics Task Force was also investigating Wallin.
Authorities said an undercover officer with the state task force
bought methamphetamine from Wallin six times from Sept. 20 to Jan. 2,
paying more than $3,400 in total for 23 grams of the drug.
Federal agents also say they learned through wiretaps and informants about other sales Wallin was making.
Connecticut U.S. Attorney David Fein said federal and state
authorities worked together in “the dismantling of what we allege was a
significant methamphetamine distribution organization that spanned from
California to Connecticut.”
Also charged in the case 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. Authorities
say McCluskey and Laschober were involved in the shipping of
methamphetamine to Wallin.
Messages by the AP were left lawyers for Wallin, McCluskey and
Laschober. Wallin is being detained without bail at the Bridgeport
Correctional Center, state records show.