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Crack Relapse Brings Down a City Councilman

Crack Relapse

Crack Relapse Brings Down a City Councilman

Everybody knows crack relapses are bad. But this crack relapse seems to be beyond bad. In fact, this crack relapse is about as bad as they get. Not just because it almost killed someone. (Though there is that.) Or even because it wrecked said someone’s career. (Though there is that too.) No, what brings this relapse from bad to worse is that it did all that, plus tore apart a young family. It also jeopardized the welfare of many other families. And it did so on screen and in public.

We’re speaking about Matthew R. Reilly, the now-former Cranston (Rhode Island) Ward 6 City Council member who was found passed out behind the wheel of his SUV.

A concerned citizen had flagged down Cranston Police. When the patrolman checked on Reilly, the officer found a crack pipe in his hand.

Reilly had apparently made a pitstop on his way to Family Court, where he was scheduled to represent a client.

It was 11:30 in the morning.

The fallout was quick – and decisive.

Reilly resigned from his Ward 6 position two days later. Three days after that he stepped down from his spot atop the Cranston GOP, “the Official Governing Authority of The Cranston Republican Party.”

Reilly had been serving as the organization’s chair.

It gets even worse. According to the Boston Globe’s Amanda Milkovits, once word spread about the arrest, a Supreme Court justice ordered the immediate interim suspension of Reilly’s law license and appointed Chief Disciplinary Counsel Kerry Reilley Travers as the temporary Special Master. As Special Master, Travers will have access to Reilly’s office, as well as his client files. He’ll also be able to take action, including returning the files to his clients or their new lawyers.

In other words, Reilly won’t be handling any of his 18 upcoming Family Court appearances. Then again, since the District Court also ordered Reilly to be evicted from his Cranston law office, he’d have had a hard time representing anyone anyway.

Crack Relapse: Let’s Go to the Tape

Police body cam footage doesn’t get much more damning.

“He appeared to be sleeping or unconscious while having difficulty breathing/choking,” Patrolman Luis A. Collado wrote in the police report. “I opened the door and had to shake him in order for him to wake up.”

In the footage, we see Reilly jolting awake after a few shakes from the officer.

“You were literally choking in your sleep. Someone was flagging me down about it,” the officer says.

“I have sleep apnea. I’m sorry,” Reilly says.

“Well, you have a crack pipe in your hands,” says Collado.

Reilly asks if he’s going to be arrested and Collado continues to question him.

“Are there any drugs in your car?” the officer asks.

“No, nothing,” Reilly responded.

It was an apparent lie. Officers said they found crack laced with fentanyl, along with other drug paraphernalia, while searching his car.

Patrolman David Cragin tested the substance at the scene, and it was positive for cocaine and fentanyl. He estimated the weight at 1.5 grams.

“It was a relapse,” Reilly says. “Just went through a really bad divorce recently.”


Providence Journal reporter Jack Perry’s coverage shows that Cranston Mayor Ken Hopkins has known Reilly since the now-former councilman was a child. The story also says Hopkins joined the city council president and the Cranston Democratic Committee in publicly calling for Reilly’s resignation.

“I feel that’s in the best interest of the city, his constituents,” Hopkins said ahead of Reilly’s resignation. “I also feel that personally it’s in his best interest for him for his family’s privacy and for the constituents of Ward 6.”

Hopkins, who said Reilly has brought up his struggles with addiction during past council meetings, added that his office has accepted Reilly’s resignation.

The mayor’s office also issued a statement.

“Early this morning my office assisted Matt Reilly and filed his letter of resignation from the Cranston City Council as the Ward Six councilmember,” it read. “Matt made the right decision to step down so that he can focus his full attention on his well-being and young family.”

With this action, a difficult week for our city has closure and it allows our local government leaders to focus on their responsibilities and mission to proceed without the distraction of this unfortunate personal matter for one of our councilmembers,” the statement continued. “Upon reflection, Matt Reilly chose to put the interests of his constituents above his political interests.”

Hopkins said the City Council seat would be filled in a special election, which will be organized by the city Board of Canvassers.

A Cop’s Eye-View

“I look at you, you’re not the Matt Reilly we know,” says Patrolman Collado. “Your health and your well-being is worth more than your political career.”

That kind Cranston cop is right. Reilly’s health is more important than his political career. That’s assuming he’ll still even have a political career. If the crack relapse doesn’t derail any plans in that regard, the rather alarming revelations that came to light during his divorce most certainly will. In fact, after reading GoLocalProv’s report on Reilly’s alleged sex, drugs and child-neglect, it’s hard to believe he was still even serving on the Council.

Reilly claimed to have been sober for 13 years before his crack relapse. If even a sliver of his ex-wife’s heavily-chronicled allegations are true though, that claim couldn’t be true. No, it wouldn’t be the first, er, misstatement to spring from the mouth of someone struggling with substance abuse. And it most assuredly won’t be the last. But when someone’s in such a people-impacting position, utter honesty is absolutely essential.

An Honest Crack Relapse

Of course honesty is also essential to sobriety. Perhaps that’s the reason for the crack relapse. As for the episode itself, well, is there such a thing as an honest crack relapse? Of course not. But that’s kind of beside the point. Sure, crack relapses are ugly. And they’re always embarrassing. They’re not supposed to kill you though. Or even come close.

Fentanyl changed all that. Before fent flooded the streets straight cocaine users and abusers had little to fear of opioid overdose. Now they’re one of the fastest growing sectors on the death list. Why? Because they’ve got zero tolerance for opioids, especially the strongest opioids known to humankind. That means even a grain of additive can kill. Since fent is now added to everything, overdose deaths are mounting accordingly.

Healing Properties won’t excuse Reilly’s crack relapse. But we won’t condone the guy for it either. Relapse happens. Regardless of political affiliation. And frankly, if fent weren’t the new new thing, nobody would’ve been the wiser.

Maybe it’s best he got caught how though, before things got even worse. Yeah, we know. It’s hard to see how much worse things could get for Reilly – after all, he lost his political position, his law license, his spot atop his party, his clients and his practice. Heck, the guy even got booted out of his own office. But he’s still alive. And when someone gets to live another day, that’s a win.

If you’re ready to live another day, please get in touch. We’ll help get you back on track pronto.

Image courtesy Cranston Police Department

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