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'Compassionate priest' indicted in crystal meth case

A priest is among five people indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, the U.S. Attorney's office said Wednesday.

Monsignor Kevin Wallin, who resigned as pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Bridgeport, Conn., in June 2011, was arrested Jan. 3. He was charged with six counts of possession with intent to distribute crystal meth. 

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Wallin is accused of receiving shipments of crystal meth from a California distributor and selling it to an undercover officer six times between September 2012 and January 2013.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $2 million.

According to the Diocese of Bridgeport, Wallin, 61, resigned from his post after nine years, telling parishioners "that he was struggling with a number of health and personal issues" and he was granted a sabbatical.

"During his sabbatical, the diocese became concerned about Msgr. Wallin's wellbeing and have continued to reach out to him," the diocese said in a statement. "To date, he has not spoken directly with diocesan officials."

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The statement described Wallin as "a gifted, accomplished and compassionate priest," adding that his arrest comes with "a sense of shock and concern."

Kenneth Devries, a 52-year-old from Waterbury, Conn.; Michael Neslon, 40, from Manchester, Conn.; Chad McCluskey, 43, from San Clemente, Calif.; and Kristen Laschober, 47, from Laguna Niguel, Calif., were also arrested in connection to the alleged drug ring.