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Branford panhandler nabbed for drug possession speaks out

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BRANFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Down on his luck and strapped for cash, Channel 3 Eyewitness News spoke exclusively to what some might call a notorious panhandler who was nabbed for drug possession in Branford.

The Branford man has been a common sight near the intersection of Cedar and North Main streets, soliciting donations.

"I'm paying my bills with the stuff. I just started with the drugs," Lawrence Hayden said.

Hayden, 63, was arrested after police said they found 10 bags of heroin on him. He said after being truly homeless for several years, he said he was able to get back on his feet, but always treated panhandling as his job.

"I get a monthly check, but it isn't enough," he said.

So using private property of a home for sale on the corner, he'd draw up signs asking for help and using his dog Hugo to garner sympathy.

"I'm trying to keep a roof over my head," he said.

Daily commuters said they were all too familiar with his pitch.

"He was out there, pretty much eight to 10 hours a day," Michael Demusis said.

Police said on Tuesday night he had nearly $70. Hayden said most times he'd really use the money to pay his $700 rent and feed his dog and other animals in the community, but he admitted to using the money for drugs.

"I just started that," he said. "I give up."

Depressed over a pending assault case, Hayden said he's hit rock bottom and said he resigned the idea that he'll lose his home and possessions, and most importantly his dog.

"He's all I care about," he said. I gotta find a good home for him."

After getting caught with the 10 bags of heroin, Hayden was released on a written promise to appear in court.

When asked if he would ever appear at his corner ever again, Hayden said, "No. I can't do that now. Everybody will think I'm buying drugs."

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