Rilling’s son arrested; confesses to opioid addiction

Stephen Rilling. (Courtesy Fairfield Police)

Updated, 10:30 p.m.: Information added.

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield Police Det. Stephen Rilling, the son of Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, was arrested Friday and charged with evidence tampering, Fairfield Police say.

Mayor Rilling released a statement saying that he is standing by his son, who he said has become addicted to prescription pain medication.

Fairfield Police released a statement saying:

“Over the last several weeks the Fairfield Police Department has been conducting both an internal investigation and a separate criminal investigation into the misappropriation of drug evidence by a Police Detective within the organization.

“This investigation has culminated in the arrest on a warrant today of Detective Stephen Rilling, age 40, on the charges of Computer Crime 3rd degree, Larceny in the 2nd degree, Forgery in the 2nd degree, Possession of Narcotics, False entry by an officer or agent of a Public Community and Tampering with evidence.  He was processed and released after posting a $5,000 court imposed bond.”


Stephen Rilling turned himself in for arrest Friday, Fairfield Lt. Robert Kalamaras said in an email.

Rilling has been the lead narcotics investigator for Fairfield Police since April, 2001, his LinkedIn page states. He has been a detective since 1999 and served a year as a special investigator for the Connecticut Office of the State’s Attorney in Bridgeport, in 2006-2007.

Rilling, in a May 7 post on RyanHampton.org, says that he suffered a severe back injury after a car collision during a police pursuit. The suspect deliberately hit him, he said, and he became addicted to narcotic pain medication after back surgery. He hid his “large habit” for three years before confessing and going into detox, he said.

“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. How could this happen? I’m a narcotics cop, this isn’t supposed to happen,” he wrote.

Mayor Rilling released this statement:

“Like too many other families in Connecticut, my son and our family are facing the effects of the opioid epidemic that is sweeping our state.

“In the past few weeks I learned that my son has a substance abuse problem brought on by prescription pain medication.  He has accepted responsibility for his situation and is in therapy.  We are proud of the way he is facing this problem and will continue to stand by him as he works toward recovery.

“We are a family who believes in the power of prayer.  With prayer and hard work, Steve will get healthy and will move on with his life.  This is a personal matter for our family and I will have no further comment.”


Stephen Rilling’s RyanHampton.org post is headlined, “For 19 Years, I’ve Been A Police Officer. Today, I’m Clean from Opioids and I’m Done Hiding.”

He was “floored” when he was put back into the narcotics work following his rehab, Rilling said. He stayed clean for two years, until “all hell broke loose,” he said.

“I relapsed. I began taking opioids again but was not getting it prescribed like before. So, like any good addict I graduated to heroin. Never in my wildest dreams would I believe that I would stoop so low, but I did. The guilt was immeasurable!” he wrote.

“After finally speaking to a good therapist, I was diagnosed with PTSD due to all the crazy things I have seen and witnessed in my career,” he wrote. “…. I don’t know what the future holds with my job but I am a lot happier now.”

Rilling was placed on administrative leave in April, Fairfield Police say. A criminal investigation showed that the misappropriation occurred from June to February.

“We have reviewed our policy as it relates to this access for follow up, and have implemented additional stricter procedures with our evidence officer to ensure safeguards, in order to prevent the misappropriation of evidence by a single officer,” the police statement said. “…We are working in close coordination with the States Attorney to determine a legal and proper disposition for those cases that were investigated and possibly affected by the misappropriation.”

Steve Rilling arrest media release (2)


28 responses to “Rilling’s son arrested; confesses to opioid addiction”

  1. Rick McQuaid

    My support goes out to Mayor Rilling and his family during this difficult time. As anyone who has ever had a family member charged with a crime or burdened with drug addiction understands, it is both devastating and humiliating to deal with, especially when it’s ones own child. This is greatly compounded when you are in the public eye. I strongly urge everyone to remember the current events bear no reflection on the character or competence of our Mayor.

  2. Lucille

    Completely understandable that Mayor Rilling would stand by his son. I’m not sure “proud” is a word I would use, though, given the gravity of the allegations. Stephen Rilling was in charge of the Fairfield P.D.s narcotics division. He recently busted Fairfield U. college kids for possession of marijuana and narotics. He is an officer of the law. To Serve and Protect, right? You can’t just point the finger at one’s addiction and then blame the addiction on the PTSD, and blame the superior who put you on the narcotics detail and blame being a police officer for the trauma you’ve suffered. Yes, he sounds like he’s ready to be accountable for his drug addiction. But the rest of it–the crimes, the breech of public trust, the hypocrisy–I am not reading anything that comes close to an acknowledgment that Officer Rilling knows he’s a criminal and accepts that he and he alone is responsible for his crimes. No wonder the mistrust between police and the public continues to grow. Also this idea that addiction is an excuse for all of our bad behavior has got to stop.

  3. Donald

    Very Very well said

  4. Lee Doyle

    Keep your head up buddy. You know your heart is that of a good guy. Stay true to it and don’t anyone tell you different. I wish the best of luck with everything.

  5. Lucille

    Rilling’s mea culpa dovetailed nicely with the timeline of the internal investigation into who was stealing out of the Fairfield PD evidence room. Nothing like getting out in front of the story and putting your own spin on it. I wonder what Baltimore and Newark cops think of Rilling’s PTSD diagnosis. Detective Rilling should be hanging his head in shame, and his father the mayor should want to punch him in the face for disgracing the family name and his position as a figure of authority in Fairfield.

  6. McKeen Shanogg

    Stephen Rilling has only been charged, not convicted of the crimes for which he was arrested. In the US justice system a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Statements made at the time of arrest can be expected to reflect this basic principle.

  7. Lucille

    Yeah I get that he’s innocent until proven guilty. But if you feel actual remorse, you come completely clean and suffer the consequences fully. And Rilling does not appear to be of a mind to do that. He will probably enter a plea of not guilty by reason of his PTSD and drug addiction disability or make a plea deal for probation with no jail time. I don’t blame him for not wanting to go to jail like the criminals he arrested as a narc detective. But I wouldn’t call this honorable behavior or worthy of “attaboys” from family and friends.

  8. Kathleen

    Lucille, I certainly hope your family doesn’t experience the pain of addiction. Seeing you hang your head in shame and punching the addict in the face, well that would be the worst thing for them. Wishing the Rilling family well during this difficult time and prayers for recovery.

  9. Paul Passarelli

    Please take a moment to read it all:
    This isn’t about what you think…

    If I were examining the evidence of this case I would have *ONE* litmus test issue. Did he at any time sell or give away *ANY* of the narcotics he stole? There are *two* possibilities:

    1) If there is medical evidence that he consumed 100% of the missing drugs then he is in fact a poor unfortunate and out of control soul. Get5 him the help he needs and remove the temptation to repeat the theft.

    2) If he redistributed some, even a single dose, of the seized drugs, then he is a criminal, and all the sympathy in the world is wasted. Fire him, charge him, etc…

    As far as I am concerned there is an easy way to determine if substantial amounts of the drugs were redistributed. ask any physician if he could function or even survive using the amount unaccounted for from the evidence lockup. If the answer is anything other than: It appears he only took what he needed to control his addiction. Then we have a criminal acting under color of law, who needs to be punished.

    There is really no grey area.

    FWIW: I think the “War on Drugs” is lost, and is also a meaningless battle. Heroin should be cheap and available OTC! Of course the *consequences* for being or becoming addicted should rest solely on the individual, not the employer. Employers (sh/w)ould be free to establish any policies from ‘zero tolerance’, to ‘as needed’, to ‘recreational’, and bear the indirect consequences of those decisions.

    I do not use drugs, and I do not approve of the choice of individuals who choose to use them. But, as a Libertarian, I respect their choice to indulge, as long as I am not affected by their diminished capacity.

    I submit if we were to have a nationwide secret ballot to end the drug war under the conditions I outlined above, the ‘war’ would be over before the ink was dry! We’de lose a small portion of the population in the early days to lethal overdoses, but then we’d bury the dead and move on with our lives as a stronger nation. Unburdened with the useless costs of prosecuting ‘drug crimes’ and ‘drug criminals’.

    Wake up people!

    — In Liberty

  10. Lucille

    Rilling has an addiction. That does not absolve him from culpability with regard to drugs missing from the evidence room. Whether he used them for himself or sold them is of less concern to me than whether or not he violated the rules of his profession and broke the public trust.

    @Kathleen, I have know many people whose lives were ruined by drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. I know heartbroken parents whose son died of a heroin overdose. I’ve seen a close, personal friend sink deeper and deeper through her own errors in judgement. The Percocet didn’t turn her into an opioid addict. She did that herself. I have sympathy for addicts because their lives are difficult. But I have no sympathy for crooked cops. If this one stole from the evidence room, even for his own use, he compromised his police work. He’s out arresting people for possession. There is a level of betrayal of the public trust that should not go unpunished if Rilling is found guilty.

  11. Barry Wozniak

    All of you feeling pity for this low life POS. Anyone else and it would be everything negative.

  12. Lucille

    @Barry, I’m afraid you’re right. Rilling knew how to hit the right buttons with his confessional. If a poor man of color who was an admitted heroin addict were accused of the same or similar crimes, I doubt there’d be heartfelt prayers for the “victim” and his family.

  13. Melanie

    First of all… I am praying for this family!! It’s a real shame that the media only blows it up because of who they are. Steve is accepting responsibility for his actions and is taking the proper steps to get better. Why is he a POS? Only a POS would write such a thing. And Lucille, as far as him being a crooked cop….. look at all of his accomplishments then call him crooked. If you have absolutely nothing better to do than put others down and make nasty comments about our mayor and his family then shame on you. I am so glad your family is perfect. I will also pray for you.

  14. Donald

    As far as this dirty cop excepting reasonability, it is really too late for that .He really should have thought about his actions before he did them. I am sure that he arrested people for much less and did not give them a pass as you suggest we give to him. He belongs in prison just as so many that he arrested for much less also do. If he wants rehab, he can get it in prison. Cops need to be held to a higher standard, not a lesser one.

  15. Lucille

    @Melanie, thank you for your prayers for me. But seeing as you previously acknowledged my family is perfect, perhaps you should direct your prayers to yourself where they might be of more value. If Detective Rilling removed heroin from the evidence room for his own use, he is a bad cop, his previous accomplishments notwithstanding. These are the people we trust with most of the guns, the handcuffs, the jails and the whole pulling people over and arresting them thing. So if it’s possible to be an excellent narc and have an active addiction to heroin (which Rilling has admitted on social media), I stand corrected and beg for God’s mercy and your sanctimonious prayers. Amen.

  16. Mary Rilling Bellavia

    John 8:7
    When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

  17. Michael Foley

    Mayor Rilling is doing what every other parent would do, standing by your children when they screw up is what parents are supposed to do.Its easy to attack the Mayor because you don’t like his politics. I only hope that his son gets the help he needs to move forward clean & sober.

  18. Lucille

    I would expect the Mayor to support his son through his difficulties. I would have considered a word other than “proud”, however, to use in this context.

    When cops pull over innocent citizens, handcuff them and throw them in the lockup, they are making judgements in the absence of all the facts. And they have the weapons to make their judgements known and obeyed. Again and for the last time, it’s not the heroin addiction that deserves condemnation, it’s the hypocrisy. If you have a heroin addition, step down from the PD before you have to steal from the evidence room, or risk the rath and judgement of the public who trusted you to protect them.

  19. Donald

    Mary Rilling Bellavia
    Tell us how many time has Stephen Rilling said “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” before he locked them up and destroyed their lives.

  20. Donald

    Michael Foley
    I don’t see anyone attacking the Mayor. What I do see is people correctly attacking a dirty cop

  21. Disgusted

    Perfectly timed confessional… He must have known they were on to him as the walls were closing in around him.

    This is his way of blaming the Fairfield Police Dept. for putting him back into active duty. Now he’s the victim.

    His Union will support him and he’ll retire early with full benefits. Any criminal activity will be chalked up as “first time offender” etc. maybe a rehab sentence. He’s white, connected and has a lawyer.

    Sorry… he’s not going to jail.

    I wonder how Brett Wider is doing right about now…. He was a Sacred Heart Football player busted in 2011 by Rilling for selling oxycodone. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison. I wonder if he was given the same consideration that will be given to Rilling.

  22. Danny

    @disgusted There’s a difference between SELLING and stealing for his own use.

    Brett Wider was selling/distributing, ruining the lives of hundreds of people – spreading the disease to an entire community.

    Rilling on the other hand was infecting himself, destroying himself – big difference.

    So yes, of course Rilling won’t receive the same sentence, cupcake.

    As for Lucille – I find your comments comical and hope it continues! We all need a little slap-stick humor once in a while! #Karma

  23. Lucille

    @Danny, glad you’re amused. But stealing for your own use is uglier when you have to arrest someone and seize their dope as evidence first. Maybe if Rilling tripped on a banana peel on the way to the evidence room, that would be slapstick.

  24. Danny

    Simms, I mean, Lucille, we all have our opinions! It’s uglier to sell the drugs and ruin the lives of an entire community, rather than to take it for your own use and self destruct. I’m glad Mr. Rilling recognizes that he needs the help.

  25. Lucille

    @Danny, you don’t consider it a problem that a narc might arrest someone for possession simply so the narc has easy access to drugs? This is the point at which the cop crosses the line and betrays the public trust. We give them guns, handcuffs and jails. If someone is making arrests to feed his habit, this behavior is every bit as despicable as selling, maybe more so. A nurse stealing from the hospital dispensary is someone feeding his habit. Arresting people to feed your habit is criminial. Glad he’s getting help too, but I expect a full investigation, and if crimes were committed, I hope for jail time.

  26. Danny

    @Simms, I mean, Lucille, I’m not saying what Detective Rilling did was wrong. As a matter of fact, Detective Rilling is taking responsibility! Mind blowing, huh? SO please don’t suggest otherwise. Let the judicial system do their job, ok? Good luck in your mayoral race, you’re going to need it!

  27. Lucille

    @Danny, what part of Rilling’s mea culpa suggested he accepted responsibility for criminal acts? He came clean about his addiction. The Mayor supports his son’s recovery. No one has admitted guilt. If you’re read the part where Stephen Rilling says, “yes, I arrested college kids so I could get hold of their stash,” please fill us in on the details. Inquiring minds what to know.

    By the way, while I am flattered that you think I should make a run for mayor, I can assure you that I’m not who you think I am. Mistaken about my identify. Mistaken about Rilling’s culpability. You’re on quite a roll.

  28. Dan lewis

    I knew this guy. He investigated me. Searched me with no warrant, cursed at me, and called me a theif and a loser. He can rot in prison! These crooked cops need to be made an example of!

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