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Dean of prestigious Manhattan school caught with heroin, pills

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DARIEN, Connecticut (PIX11) – As a dean at one of the most prestigious boys schools in the country, he was supposed to set an example for the students.  However, police in one tri-state department said Wednesday that the example set by Regis High School Dean of Students Nicholas deSpoelburch was anything but good.  He prepares now to go before a judge to face felony drug charges.

Dean deSpoelburch was found with three envelopes of heroin in his car, as well as drug paraphernalia, according to police in the town of Wilton, in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

That’s where the dean, 35, was arrested late last Thursday night.  The ranking detective, Lt. Donald Wakeman, told PIX11 News that an officer, while on a routine patrol, spotted deSpoelburch’s car parked at the end of a short, deserted roadway, just off busy Route 7.

The officer found the dean asleep in the front seat of the car, and woke him up.  “He told the officer that he had some prescription drugs that were not in their original containers,” as required by Connecticut law, Wakeman said.

That violation permitted the officer to search deSpoelburch’s Nissan Altima, in which he found the heroin and other evidence that strongly suggested, according to police, that the high school administrator had been using, or intended to use, the addictive drug.

“There was a couple of syringe needles, a couple of metal spoons,” said Lt. Wakeman, “and those are consistent with the use of heroin.”

The arrest took place on Old Highway Extension, a one block-long street that’s a few hundred paces from the entrance to Wilton Police Department headquarters.

It is not clear why deSpoelburch, who lives ten miles away from where he was arrested, was in Wilton in the first place.  PIX11 News went to his home in Darien to get his side of the story, only to find nobody answering the door.

As for Regis High School, a tuition-free institution which admits only one in nine applicants and routinely sends its graduates to Harvard, Yale and Stanford, it issued a statement to students and alumni about the felony drug arrest of its dean of students.  “Regis takes those charges very seriously.  We have zero tolerance for such activities, and as such Mr. deSpoelburch has been suspended pending further investigation,” the statement said, in part.

DeSpoelberch was a popular member of the Regis community, having been a guidance counselor at the school before becoming dean in 2008. He was also involved with the athletic department and taught martial arts.

“No one really saw this coming,” a recent Regis graduate, who asked not to be identified, said to PIX11 News. “He’s such a great guy. On our school field day, he’d bring his kid and wife and they’d be inseparable.  He’s strict, but reasonable and I’ve always seen him as a family man who’s setting a good example for us.”

deSpoelberch is scheduled to be arraigned before a Fairfield County judge next Monday, after having posted $2,500 bond.


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