Police: New London firefighter had heroin at L+M

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New London — Police said 0.2 grams of bagged heroin fell out of a city fire lieutenant’s sweatpants when a nurse picked the pants up while he was at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital on Feb. 10.

Police charged Rocco Basilica, 53, of Oakdale with possession of narcotics when he turned himself in on a warrant Tuesday.

Basilica, a longtime city firefighter and former head of the union, also was accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and driving an unregistered vehicle in Groton City on Feb. 14. Pending the outcome of that case, fire officials suspended him with pay.

New London police said Basilica had been in the orthopedics wing of the hospital for multiple days when a nurse went to his room to “tidy up.” The nurse told police she grabbed a pair of black sweatpants from the floor and was folding them when a plastic, gauze-covered cup fell out. The nurse said she could see a folded piece of paper inside the cup, which was one of the cups the hospital uses to distribute medicine. She couldn’t see what was inside the paper.

Per protocol, the nurse delivered the substance to hospital security.

Hospital security told police they found a small bag, labeled “Chick-Filet,” inside the cup. They said they believed the beige substance inside the bag was heroin. Police, who said drug dealers often label their products, used a state-approved field test on some of the powder and said it came back positive for the presence of heroin.

Hospital staff told police they spoke with Basilica about the substance and he said he was holding it for a friend. He said he didn’t know what it was and asked staff to “just get rid of it.”

A nurse said Basilica made multiple comments about wanting to keep his sweatpants near him during his stay and sometimes was found “digging in the pockets.” The nurse said his comments were “odd.”

Basilica, released on a $1,000 bond, is due March 6 in New London Superior Court. He will be arraigned on the Groton City police charges Feb. 28. It wasn't clear Wednesday whether anyone is representing him.

Basilica began his career in the summer of 1996 and in 2000 was named "Firefighter of the Year" by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He has been out of work for months because of an unspecified work-related injury.

l.boyle@theday.com

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