BOSTON (AP) — A starting lineman for the New England Patriots worked as an informant for federal drug agents after he was arrested in New York on a charge of carrying the powerful painkiller oxycodone without a prescription, an attorney said.
Nicholas Kaczur, 28, wore a wire to help agents build a case against his alleged supplier, Daniel Ekasala, according to Ekasala's attorney.
A Drug Enforcement Administration agent said in an affadavit that a cooperating witness — whose name was not revealed in the document — wore a recording device during three drug buys last month. In each of the deals, the witness bought 100 OxyContin pills from Ekasala for $3,900 in cash, the agent wrote.
Ekasala's lawyer, Bernard Grossberg, said Kaczur was that cooperating witness.
Kaczur denied to The Boston Globe that he participated in the investigation, telling the newspaper, "I don't know what you're talking about, bro."
Kaczur has an unlisted telephone number and could not be reached for comment Wednesday. His agent, Vance Malinovic, did not return messages left by The Associated Press.
Stacey James, a spokesman for the Patriots, would not comment on Kaczur. He referred questions to the U.S. attorney's office, which declined to comment.
Kaczur, 6 feet 4 and 315 pounds, started 15 games last year at right tackle, protecting star quarterback Tom Brady during the Patriots' undefeated regular season. Originally from Brantford, Ontario, Kazcur was drafted by the Patriots in 2005 and has started 35 games over three seasons.
Kaczur missed the team's final regular season game on Dec. 29 with a foot injury. He also was out for several games early in the 2006 season because of a shoulder injury.
Ekasala, 34, was indicted Tuesday and remains free on an unsecured bond of $10,000. He pleaded not guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court to three counts of possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute.
Ekasala was arrested May 13 after meeting the witness in a supermarket parking lot in Sharon and selling him 100 pills, according to the DEA affidavit.
Kaczur told the DEA he began buying OxyContin in November, getting 100 pills every few days, Grossberg said. The lawyer said he believes Kaczur inflated the quantity he bought to "increase his importance or usability to the DEA."
Ekasala, an unemployed construction worker and father of 2-year-old twins from Saugus, was sympathetic to Kaczur and somewhat in awe of him because of his status as a Patriots player, Grossberg said.
"As anybody who meets a professional athlete ... I think he became somewhat enamored by his contact with him, and was enticed to do certain things," Grossberg said.
Kaczur, who lives in Attleboro, was pulled over by state police in Whitestown, N.Y., on April 27, for driving 76 mph in a 65 mph zone. He was charged with a misdemeanor count of criminal possession of a controlled substance, said Sgt. Kern Swoboda, a spokesman for the state police.
Kaczur was issued a summons to appear in court on May 12, but Swoboda did not know the current status of his case. A judge in the Whitestown Town Court in Whitesboro, N.Y., said details would not be available until the court is in session on Monday.
The NFL does not test for oxycodone but does prohibit the misuse of prescription drugs.