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A man who supplied nearly 10 pounds of methamphetamine to a drug operation run by a Catholic priest dubbed Monsignor Meth was sentenced Wednesday to more than five years in prison, telling a judge he was overcome by his addiction and never intended to become such a big dealer.
Chad McCluskey, 44, of San Clemente, California, was sentenced in federal court in Hartford to five years, five months behind bars. He and his girlfriend, Kristen Laschober, of Laguna Niguel, California, pleaded guilty last year to drug conspiracy charges connected to their meth business with now-suspended Monsignor Kevin Wallin. Laschober awaits sentencing.
Wallin, nicknamed “Monsignor Meth” in some media reports, also pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge and awaits sentencing. Connecticut police and federal agents said they discovered during their investigation that Wallin had bought an adult video and sex-toy shop in North Haven, apparently to launder all the money he was making.
Wallin is facing 11 to 14 years in prison for selling large quantities of meth out of his apartment in Waterbury. Two other men pleaded guilty to helping Wallin sell the drugs in Connecticut.
“I would like to apologize to the court for my conduct and to the communities I’ve hurt,” McCluskey said in court, crying at times. “And to my friends who stood by me...and to my family...I didn’t think it was going to be a business, and my addiction got so heavy that my judgment was clouded...I never set out to be a drug dealer.”
Authorities said McCluskey started sending small amounts of meth to Wallin in early 2009, and the operation grew before it ended in late 2012, shortly before everyone was arrested. Federal officials say McCluskey and Laschober sent one to three pounds a month to Wallin over six months. McCluskey also admitted distributing at least 12 pounds of meth to drug sellers in another part of the country.
McCluskey grew up near Chicago, graduated from Drake University in Iowa and held good jobs before his drug addiction did him in, said his lawyer, Todd Bussert.
Wallin, 62, had been the pastor at St. Augustine Parish in Bridgeport for nine years before resigning in 2011, citing health and personal problems. He previously served as pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Danbury. The Diocese of Bridgeport indefinitely revoked Wallin’s priest powers in 2012.
Wallin’s case drew comparisons to the TV show Breaking Bad, about a high school science teacher who became a meth kingpin. Authorities say the case was unusual because methamphetamine hasn’t been a big problem in the state as it has in others. In fact, officials said Wallin’s case was the first federal prosecution of a meth case in Connecticut that they could remember.
Bussert said McCluskey had a long-standing drug problem.
“This isn’t a guy who woke up one day and decided to break bad,” Bussert said.