Monday, September 15, 2008

Priest charged with selling coke from campus rectory

A Catholic priest was charged this week with selling cocaine from his office and residence at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, local news organizations report.

The Rev. Christopher Layden, 33, was arrested Wednesday after police found "about 3 grams of powder cocaine and items of drug paraphernalia" while executing a search warrant on the campus, according to The Pantagraph.

Layden pleaded not guilty to three charges, the paper says.

The News-Gazette reports an informant told police that he has used cocaine with the priest "40 to 50 times" since 2007. "First Assistant State's Attorney Steve Ziegler said in court Thursday that the UI police monitored a cocaine purchase by the informant from Layden on Sept. 4," the paper says.

Here's the campus police department's blotter entry about this case.

The Peoria Diocese says in a statement to the local ABC affiliate that it was "shocked and saddened" to learn of the priest's arrest. He has been suspended pending the outcome of the case, the statement says.

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