Patriots lineman Kaczur cooperates with DEA following arrest

Updated: June 4, 2008, 7:01 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

New England Patriots offensive lineman Nick Kaczur was arrested in April for illegal possession of the powerful painkiller oxycodone and cooperated with federal agents in a sting of his alleged supplier, an attorney said.

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According to Bernard Grossberg, the attorney for alleged dealer Daniel Ekasala, Kaczur wore a wire to help agents build the case against Ekasala.

The Boston Globe, citing Grossberg, a federal affidavit and two sources who had been briefed on the investigation, first reported the story.

A Drug Enforcement Administration agent said in an affadavit that a cooperating witness -- whose name was not revealed -- wore a recording device during three drug buys in May in southeastern Massachusetts. In each of the deals, the witness bought 100 OxyContin pills from Ekasala for $3,900 in cash, the agent wrote.

[+] EnlargeNick Kaczur
Paul Spinelli/Getty ImagesNick Kaczur (No. 77) reportedly told the U.S. DEA he had purchased hundreds of oxycodone pills weekly from an alleged supplier and wore a wire in three buys of the prescription painkiller.

Grossberg said Kaczur, 28, told investigators he had been purchasing hundreds of oxycodone pills from the man since November 2007, according to the report.

Ekasala, 34, was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on three counts of possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute. He remains free on an unsecured bond of $10,000 after pleading not guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court to three counts of possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute.

On Tuesday, Kaczur denied taking part in a federal investigation or buying drugs and said he was not familiar with Ekasala, the Globe reported.

"I don't know what you're talking about, bro," Kaczur said on the front porch of his Attleboro, Mass., home, according to the Globe. "I don't know where this is coming from. I don't know what you are talking about."

According to a six-page affidavit filed by the DEA agent, the unnamed cooperating witness -- a buyer who was reaching out to the alleged dealer by text message -- met with the dealer to exchange cash for drugs.

Grossberg and two other people briefed on the investigation, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Kaczur was the cooperating witness in the case.

New York State Police said Kaczur was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, a misdemeanor, following an April 27 traffic stop on the New York State Thruway.

Kaczur had been pulled over for speeding in Whitestown, N.Y., when police discovered a "small amount of controlled substance for which he did not have a prescription," a substance identified as oxycodone, N.Y. State Police Sgt. Kern Swoboda said.

Swoboda did not know the current status of Kaczur's case in New York.

Patriots spokesman Stacey James declined to comment on Kaczur, according to the report. "We're deferring all questions on this matter to the appropriate law enforcement officials," he said.

Kaczur's agent, Vance Malinovic, said he was not prepared to comment on the case, according to The Globe.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello also declined to speak directly to the case, according to the report. "It's a law enforcement matter, and any questions should be directed to the appropriate law enforcement agencies," he said.

The NFL does not test for oxycodone but does prohibit the misuse of prescription drugs.

Grossberg said Ekasala, an unemployed construction worker and father of 2-year-old twins, has also been asked by federal agents to cooperate, but has repeatedly refused. He said Ekasala was "an extremely reluctant participant and was somewhat enamored of being friendly with or having contact with a professional athlete," according to the report.

"My client was always sympathetic to Mr. Kaczur and suggested to him many times, as the text messages will show, that Kaczur ought not to be doing what he was doing," Grossberg said, according to the newspaper. "Professional athletes in this country are treated like royalty, and royalty sometimes abuses the people they come in contact with, and I think that's what happened to Ekasala."

But assistant U.S. Attorney Brian T. Kelly, while declining to comment on the investigation or Kaczur's role as a cooperating witness, said he didn't buy Grossberg's explanation of how Ekasala came to become a drug supplier.

"The crazy fan defense doesn't seem real plausible, but it will be up to a jury to decide," Kelly said, according to the report.

Kaczur, 6 feet 4 and 315 pounds, started 15 games last year at right tackle, protecting New England star quarterback Tom Brady during the Patriots' undefeated regular season. Originally from Brantford, Ontario, Kazcur was drafted by the Patriots in 2005 after playing four years at Toledo, where he was the first player in school history to make the All-Mid American Conference team in four seasons.

Kaczur, who has started 35 games for the Patriots over three seasons, missed the team's final regular season game Dec. 29 with a foot injury. He also was out for several games early in the 2006 season because of a shoulder injury.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.