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Narcotics cop charged with stealing heroin, other drugs from police department

May 26, 2017 GMT

FAIRFIELD - The lead detective of the Police Department’s narcotics unit was charged Friday with stealing heroin and other drugs seized during police operations.

Stephen Rilling, 40, a 19-year veteran of the police force and the son of Norwalk’s mayor, Harry Rilling, surrendered to police Friday after being told there was a warrant for his arrest.

He was charged with third-degree computer crime, second-degree larceny, second-degree forgery, possession of narcotics, false entry by an officer or agent of a public community and tampering with evidence and later released after posting $5,000 bond pending arraignment in Superior Court in Bridgeport on June 2.

His lawyer, John R. Gulash, declined comment on the allegations against Rilling.

“He does have the support of his family and friends,” Gulash said.

Police Lt. Robert Kalamaras said they are not disclosing at this time the amount of drugs taken and said the “misappropriation,” affected only a few pending criminal cases. No money was taken and the drugs were taken only from cases Rilling was involved in.

At the lead detective in the narcotics unit Rilling led a number of raids including of student dormitory rooms at Fairfield University that netted large amounts of marijuana and narcotics. Police would not comment on specific cases under review.

Kalamaras said Rilling has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an ongoing internal investigation.

“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,” Kalamaras said.

He said a subsequent criminal investigation was initiated in conjunction with the State’s Attorney’s Office and that the thefts occurred from June 2016 to February of 2017.

“At no point was the structural integrity of our evidence room breached,” Kalamaras said. “Access to the evidence was through the property officer, who believed the removal was for valid and legitimate Law Enforcement purposes. At no point did anyone other than the property officer have direct access to our evidence room, nor was the chain of custody breached for cases unrelated to those cited.”

He continued that they are working with the States Attorney to determine how to move forward with the criminal cases that are affected by the theft.

In light of the theft, Kalamaras said they have implemented stricter procedures including the requirement of supervisory approval, and dual signature for taking out evidence.

A detective in the department for 10 years, Rilling was put on leave nearly three years ago after he disclosed he had a drug problem and entered a rehabilitation program. When he returned to work he was reassigned to the narcotics unit.

In a blog he posted on May 7, Rilling admitted he was surprised he was put on the narcotics unit considering he had a drug problem.

“I was floored that I was placed back into that line of work after coming forward with my problem. I thought it was a little reckless - but I didn’t want to let anyone down,” he stated in the blog.

“I was clean for 2 years. Then all hell broke loose,” he states in his blog. “I was stressed due to all of the pressure put on me to make cases and seize assets to help my police department. It all fell on my shoulders. Also during that time, the pressure got too intense. My wife and I began having problems and separated. I was devastated.

So, 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! I couldn’t go to my work and admit that. I couldn’t face my wife and kids. And I couldn’t tell my father. I was stuck and didn’t even see it coming.”

Rilling continued in the blog that he went back to a drug rehabilitation program.

“I’m clean today and I’m done hiding in the shadows,” he stated. “I don’t know what the future holds with my job but I am a lot happier now.”

Hired in 1999, Rilling was promoted to detective in 2009. During the promotion ceremony his father, then Norwalk’s chief of police, pinned the badge on his son’s chest.

While a patrol officer he worked undercover for the Statewide Narcotics Task Force.