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Deacon admits passing contraband to inmate

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 7 (UPI) -- A Massachusetts deacon admitted smuggling contraband into jails to avoid being exposed as having adult pornography, but pleaded not guilty, officials said.

William Emerson, 66, deacon of the Roman Catholic Church of St. William in Tewksbury, Mass., told jail officials in an audio and videotaped interview March 3 he had been blackmailed by two pretrial detainees who knew Emerson had adult pornography on his home computer, court documents stated.

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Investigators found legal pornography on Emerson's computer, Middlesex County District Attorney spokeswoman Jessica Pastore told The Sun of Lowell, Mass.

Emerson pleaded not guilty in Cambridge (Mass.) District Court Wednesday to delivering contraband to a prisoner.

In his admission to smuggling contraband into the Middlesex House of Correction at Billerica, Mass., and the Middlesex Jail at Cambridge, Emerson denied knowing the envelopes he secretly passed to pretrial detainee Sean O'Connor contained drugs.

Prosecutors allege the envelopes contained Buprenorphine, commonly known as Suboxone, an opioid similar to morphine, codeine and heroin that recreational users snort for a euphoric rush along with a slight "upper" effect. Many illicit users use it for addiction therapy.

Emerson, the Billerica jail's chaplain since 2001, was removed from his post there March 3.

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The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston suspended Emerson, known to parishioners as Deacon Bill, March 12.

Emerson is to be arraigned May 5 at Lowell (Mass.) District Court on three counts of delivering drugs at Billerica.

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