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Ex-priest admits to drug charge in Connecticut

(Reuters) - A former Catholic priest from Connecticut arrested by federal authorities earlier this year on suspicion of dealing methamphetamine has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute the drug, according to court documents.

Kevin Wallin, 61, of Waterbury, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge on Tuesday, court documents showed, just before a scheduled appearance in U.S. District Court in Hartford. The conspiracy charge was one of seven charges that he faces.

If convicted, Wallin faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million.

His lawyer and a spokesman for the Diocese of Bridgeport did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Wallin and four other suspects were arrested in January following an investigation by federal and state law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut said.

Prosecutors allege Wallin received shipments of methamphetamine from people in California and say an undercover officer purchased the drug from him on six occasions between September 2012 and January 2013.

He and another suspect were arrested on January 3 after a search of his Waterbury residence turned up suspected methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia and packaging materials.

All of the suspects were charged with a single count of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a substance containing methamphetamine and 50 grams of methamphetamine, authorities said. Wallin was also charged with six counts of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Documents seized from Wallin's apartment indicate he made at least $300,000 between August and December, the Connecticut Post reported, citing prosecutors.

(Reporting by Daniel Lovering; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Leslie Adler)

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