Priest accused of dealing coke from rectory

September 11, 2008 8:45:18 PM PDT
A Catholic priest on the University of Illinois campus has been charged with selling cocaine from his church office and rectory. The Reverend Christopher Layden pleaded not guilty Thursday to two counts of delivery of less than 1 gram of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church and one count of possession with intent to deliver 1 to 15 grams of cocaine near a church.

The 33-year-old was arrested Wednesday at St. John's Catholic Newman Center after investigators found 3 grams of cocaine and drug paraphernalia while searching his home and office. His bond was set at $50,000.

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria says it has suspended Layden.

His attorney, Mark D. Lipton, did not immediately respond to an after hours message seeking comment.

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