In what sounds like an episode from the television sensation Breaking Bad, Monsignor Kevin Wallin of Fairfield County’s Catholic Church, a chaplain turned drug addict/dealer, was sentenced to 65 months in prison for distributing methamphetamine.
Kevin Wallin had been a priest for 30 years and served as a secretary to two bishops before he was arrested for the use and distribution of methamphetamine in 2013. He also worked as a chaplain for Order of Malta, a trustee for Sacred Heart University and headed the Inner City Education and Charities Foundation. In addition, he was a founding member of the AIDS Ministries Program in Connecticut and director of the Pope John Paul II for Health Care in Danbury.[1,2]
Wallin had a knack for bringing in parishioners who helped fund thousands of dollars to renovate and rebuild the St. Peter’s Church in Danbury and St. Augustine’s Cathedral in Bridgeport, two churches Wallin served as a pastor for.
Wallin receives overwhelming support from community
Approximately 80 people filled the courtroom the day Wallin was sentenced, 90 letters were mailed to the judge and 25 Masses were declared in the former pastor’s name. Prior to sentencing Wallin to 65 months in prison, Senior U.S. District Judge Alfred Covello claimed he had never seen such an outpouring of support during his 22 years on the bench.
“Our humanity is our greatest strength and also our greatest weakness,” he said to the courtroom. “We paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and then we become involved in mind-altering chemicals.”
Many church members believed Wallin was on his way to becoming Bridgeport’s bishop. Unknown to them, increasing pressures and responsibilities sent Wallin spiraling down a road of drug dealing and abuse.
“When all this happened, I, like most of us, was in shock,” said Jack Mahon, a deacon at St. Philip’s Church in Norwalk and a former theology student under Wallin, told sources.
It was because of the overwhelming support from the community that Wallin received 65 months rather than ten years in prison. The sentence was in accordance with the 65 months that Chad McCluskey received and the 60 months Kristen Laschober received, both of whom mailed Wallin pounds of Mexican produced meth.
“God was watching over me the day I was arrested,” Wallin, 63, said. “The ability to get out of that, I owe to the people in this room, to the people who have written to me, to others. The drugs, the shame that I experienced, the remorse, the embarrassment — that would have killed me. They saved me. They did this to me after what I did to them.”
The 28 months Wallin spent in prison without bond will dock his sentence from 65 months to 37 months. If Wallin finishes a 500-hour drug treatment program in prison, another month will be knocked from his sentence. Ten months could be shaved off Wallin’s term for good behavior, too. Furthermore, he stands a reasonable chance of serving the last ten percent of his time in a halfway house.
“The support for Kevin is overwhelming,” said Lyn Brignoli, a Greenwich resident who referred to Wallin as her spiritual adviser and mentor. “He is an extraordinary man,” she said. “He touched so many.”
“We want him back,” Lauren Novak, a priesthood candidate and addiction therapist, told the judge. “We want the man who has taken such good care of us back, so we can take care of him,” she said.
Prosecutor blasts Wallin for enabling homeless drug addicts
Nevertheless, Wallin was not without his critics. The prosecutors noted to the judge that none of Wallin’s sparkling reviews did justice to the “desperate, hopeless people to whom Mr. Wallin sold meth.”
“Not one of the letters sheds a single tear for those people,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Caruso said, explaining they were the ones Wallin should have helped.
“Instead, he reached out, handing them a $50 bag of meth, time and time again,” he added. “He trapped them in their addiction for years. None of them are here in court. None of them have written you.”
The morale of the tale: You can garner sympathy from almost anyone simply by popping on a collar and inserting reverend in front of your name.