By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ A counselor for the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is facing charges that he conspired to sell painkillers and sometimes used a child as a go-between to do so.
Brian Earl of North Haven pleaded not guilty Wednesday to conspiring to distribute oxycodone and oxymorphone, which has a higher potency. Earl, 39, supplied large quantities of the drugs to 35-year-old James Costanzo, of Ansonia, federal prosecutors said.
An attorney for Costanzo, who is accused of selling the drugs from his house, said he would plead not guilty Thursday. A message left for Earl’s attorney was not immediately returned.
Earl, who was released on $150,000 bond, became a target after Fairfield police were contacted by a parent whose child was buying painkillers, according to his arrest affidavit. The child told police Costanzo would pay $15 for each oxymorphone tablet and $19 for each oxycodone tablet and the young person provided Costanzo 300 oxycodone tablets and 150 oxymorphone tablets every three or four days on Earl’s behalf, according to the affidavit. The child was not named.
Investigators said they found about 200 text messages on the child’s cellphone requesting drugs from Earl, who agreed to meet the child at or near his job in Bridgeport to sell the drug. Texts also showed drug sales between Earl and Costanza, the affidavit says.
On Oct. 15, Earl texted the child owed him $6,600 for painkiller pills, authorities said. Texts later that month discussed providing painkillers for Costanzo, who was referred to as Ansonia, according to the affidavit.
The investigation also included controlled purchases of oxycodone from Costanzo, authorities said.
Earl spent $68,000 since June to buy a BMW and a house while only earning a yearly salary of $58,684, the affidavit said. Investigators were authorized to attach a GPS to Earl’s BMW, which showed his vehicle arriving at Costanzo’s house, the affidavit says. It also cites repeated cellphone calls.
Earl remains on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a human resources investigation, said James Siemianowski, spokesman for the mental health department. Earl’s work at Greater Bridgeport Mental Health Center was related to providing case management services to individuals with mental illness, he said.
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