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Patriots official says any action against Kaczur a team matter

Expected in court on drug charge

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By John R. Ellement
Globe Staff / June 7, 2008

New England Patriots offensive lineman Nicholas Kaczur will remain on the team despite the fact that he is facing a drug possession charge in New York state, the team said yesterday.

A team spokesman also had no comment on what disciplinary action, if any, Kaczur would face once the charges are formally filed or if he is found guilty. "We handle those matters internally," said spokesman Stacey James.

Kaczur, who declined to speak with reporters at the Patriots minicamp in Foxborough yesterday, was arrested by New York State Police troopers on April 27 when they found a small amount of the prescription painkiller OxyContin inside his truck after he was stopped for speeding on the New York State Thruway, officials have said.

He then cooperated with federal authorities in an undercover operation that led to the arrest of his alleged supplier.

Kaczur was ordered to appear in Whitestown (N.Y.) Town Court on May 12, but Oneida District Attorney Scott D. McNamara said yesterday he was asked to keep Kaczur's arrest secret, which he did. He refused to say who sought his assistance.

"I'm not going to answer that," McNamara said in a telephone interview.

According to court records, two people familiar with the investigation, and the defense lawyer for the alleged drug dealer, Kaczur was the "cooperating witness" who wore a hidden audiotape device for the Drug Enforcement Administration and allegedly purchased hundreds of OxyContin pills from Daniel Ekasala three times in May.

Ekasala, 35, of Saugus, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in US District Court in Boston to three counts of possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute, based on those controlled buys. Kaczur allegedly paid $3,900 each time to buy 100 OxyContin pills, according to US District Court records.

Ekasala remains free on bail. His lawyer, Bernard Grossberg, could not be reached for comment.

In Foxborough yesterday, Kaczur stretched in his customary spot along the back row of offensive players, wearing a white No. 77 jersey. He participated throughout a 90-minute practice, lining up at the right guard position along the offensive line, not his customary right tackle spot.

Kaczur will be expected to show up in person at the Whitestown Town Court, which McNamara said is a 200-year-old building where court is open one day a week from 3 to 7 p.m. Kaczur was within the town's borders when he was stopped on the highway.

McNamara said he is trying to arrange a time and date with Kaczur's lawyer, Steven J. Comen, to handle what he expects to be a brief court appearance by the Attleboro resident. McNamara said it would be within the next two weeks.

Comen, in a telephone interview, declined to discuss the case. "Out of respect for the ongoing legal process, we cannot comment at this time," he said.

McNamara said the maximum sentence Kaczur would face if convicted would be one year in prison, under what New York state considers a seventh-degree charge of illegal possession of prescription drugs.

The prosecutor said he has not decided how the criminal case will be resolved, but insisted he will not be swayed by Kaczur's day job.

"Because he is a pro football player for the New England Patriots, it really doesn't affect my decision," he said. "I don't have a specific policy. You just handle each case by what is a fair and right and appropriate disposition. . . . It's a run-of-the mill case to me."

McNamara said one reason he agreed to the delay was his belief that Kaczur would be easily within reach of law enforcement.

"I knew he would be a lot easier to find than a lot of people," he said. "His employment would help me locate him pretty easily."

Kaczur isn't the only Patriots player who has had problems with the law relating to drugs recently. Defensive back Willie Andrews was arrested in February after Lowell police allegedly found a half-pound of marijuana and $6,808 in cash in his vehicle.

In May, Andrews had his case continued without a finding in Lowell District Court. If he does not violate his probation for a year, the charges will be dismissed.

Running back Kevin Faulk was also charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana in February in Louisiana. And safety Rodney Harrison apologized and was suspended four games last season by the NFL for purchasing human growth hormone.

Andrews, Faulk, and Harrison all also worked out at yesterday's minicamp.

Mike Reiss of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

The lineman is expected to appear in a 200-year-old building where court is in session one day a week from 3 to 7 p.m.

FACING CHARGES

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