Did Progress Kentucky’s Shawn Reilly Have His Drugs & Gun Criminal History Expunged?

Click Here for Part One: Speaking Of Progress Kentucky’s Shawn Reilly And Other Problems…

Click Here for Part Two: Shawn Reilly, Of Kentucky Progress, Involved In False Voter Purge Allegations & More

Click Here for Part Three: Backgrounder On Guy Fingering Progress Kentucky

Click Here for Part Four: Clearing Up Some Reilly-Progress Kentucky Facts

Click Here for Part Five: Progress Kentucky Founder Shawn Reilly’s Stories Often Change, Casting Doubt; Had His Own Troubled Past

Click Here for Part Six: Progress Kentucky’s Shawn Reilly Has Strong Ties To The Democratic Party, Pattern Of Behavior Emerges

Click Here for Part Seven: Update: Shawn Reilly’s Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Report Information

Click here for Part Eight: Could Progress Kentucky Leader’s Past Arrests Shed Light On McConnell Audio Scandal?

By James Higdon and Jacob Payne

Progress Kentucky’s Shawn Reilly, the figure at the center of the Mitch McConnell audio recording controversy, appears to have a criminal past beyond what was previously known, that 1) involves drugs and firearms, and 2) appears to have been covered up.

We first noticed a mention in an October 2003 story from WAVE3, when Zachary Scarpellini, Reilly’s roommate and best friend since eighth grade, was shot and killed in the Highlands neighborhood in Louisville.

Murder Victim Had Troubled Past

Even Scarpenelli’s closest friends tell WAVE 3 news that he good Samaritan description seems out of character. “No matter what was told, Zach’s not stupid enough to act like a dumb person and try and save the world,” said one of his closest friends, Marianne Sharp.

Court records indicate the victim and his roommate had a history of confrontations and drug trafficking. “Back in February he was arrested along with a co-defendant for possession of Valium, and they also had a firearm,” said AssistanValiumty Attorney Ingrid Geiser.

Scarpellini’s co-defendent in that case is his roomate, Shawn Reilly.

Metro narcotics officers say the 3,000 Valium tablets were imported from Romania.

Geiser says that, “back in June of this year, he (Scarpellini) pled guilty to posession of a controlled substance in the third degree.”

Scarpenelli was also supposed to face a judge Tuesday morning in connection with an alleged assault last summer.


“He just came up and he grabbed me and threw me and grabbed my arm and threw me up against my car and made a dent on my shoulder,” said Jenks. “He kind of threw me on the ground and the whole time he was just like screaming, and threatening to kill me.”


In August of 2001, Shawn Reilly took out two criminal complaints on two men, who allegedly tried to assault Scarpellini. Police say that investigation is wide open.

This seemed like a simple enough fact to re-report. If Reilly and Scarpellini had been arrested with drugs and a firearm, obviously there would be a record of it. However, when we checked the clerks’ offices at district and circuit courts in the Jefferson County Courthouse, we found nothing; federal court clerk, also nothing; Louisville Metro Police Department, Louisville Metro Corrections, the archives in the old jail, the Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort? Zip, zero, zilch, nada; which we found to be curious.

It would appear that Reilly and Scarpellini managed to get their February 2003 drug and firearm arrests reduced to misdemeanors, which they then managed to get expunged, despite the fact that such a deal would appear to be contrary to KRS 218A.992 (Warning: External PDF Link), the section of Kentucky law dealing with sentencing enhancements for crimes involving firearms:

218A.992 Enhancement of penalty when in possession of a firearm at the time of commission of offense.

(1) Other provisions of law notwithstanding, any person who is convicted of any violation of this chapter who, at the time of the commission of the offense and in furtherance of the offense, was in possession of a firearm, shall:

(a) Be penalized one (1) class more severely than provided in the penalty provision pertaining to that offense if it is a felony; or

(b) Be penalized as a Class D felon if the offense would otherwise be a misdemeanor

It would appear that Reilly and Scarpellini should have been charged with a Class D felony. How they managed to get these charges reduced to a misdemeanor in order to get them expunged remains a mystery.

However, we have been able to confirm that the expunged charge involved a firearm based on a sidebar conference between the attorneys and the judge during the defense counsel’s cross-examination of Reilly during the Scarpellini murder trial, for which Reilly was the only eye-witness.

Here’s a quick timeline: in February 2003, Reilly and Scarpellini were arrested with 3,000 Valium tablets and a handgun, according to WAVE3 and assistant Jefferson County prosecutor Ingrid Geiser; in June 2003, each apparently pled guilty to a misdemeanor and entered into a probationary period wherein neither were allowed to own or possess a firearm for 365 days; then in October 2003, Scarpellini was shot, while in possession of a handgun, in apparent violation of his plea deal — which is why it is odd that police did not find Scarpellini’s gun on his dead body. In fact, police didn’t find the gun until the next morning.

On the witness stand, when Reilly was asked directly if he moved Scarpellini’s gun, Reilly’s reply was, “Nope,” which caused the attorneys to approach the bench.

DEFENSE (to the judge): …There was a reason for [Reilly] to be less than truthful about that answer because he was prohibited by law from owning or possessing a firearm and the jury is entitled to hear that fact. In order to give his testimony, the, the right amount of credibility. In order for them to assess his credibility, they have to be aware that there is a motive for him to answer that question less than truthfully. That motive is that he was prohibited from the court

JUDGE: On misdemeanor probation


JUDGE: Out of District Court

DEFENSE: 365 days, yeah. 365 days.


JUDGE: A court order, that’s fair game.




DEFENSE: Okay, I just asked you – repeat – you never handled the gun that night, right? 


DEFENSE: And you never moved it, did you?


DEFENSE: And in fact, at the time that this happened, you were under a court order not to own or possess a firearm, right?



DEFENSE: …if what you say is true, the gun should have been in his waistband when he was found by police, right?


There in bold above is Shawn Reilly admitting that he was barred from possessing a firearm at the time of his friend’s death, apparently because of the drugs and firearm charge that he and Scarpellini managed to plea down to a misdemeanor just five months before the shooting that killed Scarpellini — a charge that has been seemingly expunged.

But that’s okay. We have Reilly in his own words on video and under oath confirming what we know to be true: that he and Scarpellini pled guilty to charges involving possessing thousands of pills and carrying firearms in early 2003, which resulted in a court order barring them from owning or possessing firearms, even though Scarpellini was carrying a handgun on the night he was murdered.

We reached out to the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, specifically Ingrid Geiser, the assistant prosecutor quoted in the WAVE3 story, but given the volume of cases that goes through that office, Ms. Geiser could not remember a drug case from 10 years ago, especially with no documents to refresh her memory. The Jefferson County Attorney’s office gave us this statement:

“The office neither maintains nor possesses the records you request. The custodians of the records you seek are the Office of the Jefferson Circuit Court Clerk and the Administrative Office of the Courts.”

Thanks, guys; we checked there. If anyone knows how we can find seemingly expunged records that we know exist somewhere, please give us a shout. 

There’s more to come.

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