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Cody doctor charged with aggravated assault for crash

Matthew Hopkins Matthew Hopkins

‘Huffing and driving’ alleged to have caused head-on collision

A Cody psychiatrist is facing a felony charge of aggravated assault after he allegedly inhaled intoxicating vapors, passed out and crashed into an oncoming vehicle last week.

As the Park County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office describes the March 14 crash, Matthew V. Hopkins “intentionally or knowingly cause[d] bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon” — with the weapon being his vehicle.

There is no suggestion in charging documents that Hopkins purposefully drove into the other driver on Cody’s 8th Street, but at a court hearing last week, a deputy prosecutor said the doctor should have known the dangers of huffing toxic chemicals and driving.

It was the second time in four months that Hopkins, 49, has been charged with driving while under the influence; in a November incident, Hopkins is alleged to have clipped a parked vehicle while drunk.

Hopkins had been operating a solo practice called Integrated Psychiatric Solutions, but he said in circuit court that “it’s closed down now because of this.”

Hopkins added that he was planning to take a job in Vermont, but the offer was rescinded because of the DUI charge from November, “so I am unemployed,” he said.

Hopkins — whose specialties include addiction psychiatry — has previously run into trouble with medical licensing boards for struggles with addiction. That trouble dates back to 2003, when his medical license in New Hampshire was suspended after he was caught writing fake prescriptions for Adderall to himself. At that time, he also admitted to a drinking problem and was enlisted in a recovery program for doctors.

Hopkins later moved to Cody and, at the direction of the Wyoming Board of Medicine, was placed in a similar program here. Noncompliance with that Wyoming Professional Assistance Program led to a six-month suspension of Hopkins’ medical license in 2011, board records show, but his privileges to practice medicine were fully restored in July 2015.

In court last week, Hopkins indicated he relapsed into addiction in recent months.

His court-appointed defense attorney, Bill Simpson, noted that Hopkins’ father died abruptly in September.

“I understand there was a ‘relapse,’ for lack of a better term, and this [recent arrest] appears to be a continuation of some of those issues, would that be correct?” Simpson asked.

“Yes,” Hopkins agreed.

He also said he understood the gravity of the charges.

On Wednesday, Hopkins waived his right to a preliminary hearing — allowing the case to advance to district court, where he’ll next enter a plea. Over the objection of prosecutors, Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters agreed to lower Hopkins’ bond to $20,000 cash or surety; he made bail and was released from jail on Wednesday, pending further proceedings.

Judge Waters had initially set Hopkins’ bond at $50,000 cash or surety at last week’s hearing.

“It’s a problem, and it’s a serious problem,” Waters said of huffing and driving. “And especially when somebody who’s just driving down the street, minding their own business, gets clobbered head-on. That poses a danger to the public.

“So, even though I understand the professional career, the professional side of this thing, I’ve got to keep in mind public safety issues as well,” Waters said.

According to an affidavit from Cody Police Officer Blake Stinson, filed in support of the charges, witnesses saw Hopkins’ Toyota FJ Cruiser cross over to the wrong side of the road and crash into a Chevy truck. The other woman’s truck was knocked 15 feet backwards, Stinson wrote. It was around 8:45 a.m. on March 14.

The woman told police that Hopkins was passed out when he hit her. Two other witnesses had been following Hopkins — concerned about the way he’d been acting — and said they’d watched him nearly crash before he hit the truck. One of those witnesses told police she found Hopkins passed out behind the wheel, with his foot “flooring the accelerator” and a can of Dust-Off in his hand, Stinson wrote.

Dust-Off is compressed gas that’s sometimes referred to as “canned air.” It’s meant for cleaning, but the chemical it contains can be inhaled for a kind of euphoric high; labels on cans of Dust-Off warn that misusing the product and deliberately inhaling it can be fatal.

Simpson had argued for a $20,000 surety bond while Deputy Park County Prosecuting Attorney Leda Pojman argued for bond to be set at $150,000 cash.

“Although on its face that seems like a lot of money, it’s not in this circumstance, your honor,” Pojman said of the $150,000 figure, calling Hopkins “an extreme danger to society, not just a danger.”

“First of all, he’s on probation [sic] for DUI, and what does he do? He allegedly goes out and does this: One of the most dangerous things you can do, your honor, huff and drive — and the doctor should know that,” Pojman said.

She said Hopkins had “no regard” for the law or his bond conditions, “can’t be trusted” and is an “extreme flight risk.”

Simpson said the assertion that Hopkins is a flight risk was “sheer conjecture and speculation without any foundation,” noting Hopkins has spent many years in Cody and has a wife and child there. Simpson suggested that, if allowed to go free on bond, a 24/7 ankle monitor could ensure that Hopkins stays sober.

“He has had some personal issues that have come down very fast and heavy, and obviously the allegations are such that they do need to be dealt with,” Simpson said. He said that’s included “some very difficult financial circumstances.”

In addition to the aggravated assault charge, Hopkins is also charged with misdemeanor counts of driving while under the influence of a controlled substance and unlawful use of a toxic substance for last week’s crash.

In the prior case from Nov. 13, Hopkins is charged with five misdemeanor counts: driving while under the influence of alcohol and controlled substances, leaving the scene of a crash, having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, no proof of auto insurance and backing without caution.

A witness reported seeing Hopkins’ Cruiser back into a parked, unattended vehicle at Walgreen’s, shortly before noon; the male driver — alleged to be Hopkins — stopped, tried to wipe off the paint and left.

The witness caught the license plate number for Hopkins’ vehicle, prompting a Park County Sheriff’s deputy and officer Stinson to check his home in rural Cody. The peace officers reportedly found Hopkins acting strangely and found an open bottle of vodka in the Toyota.

Hopkins denied being drunk, but acknowledged having consumed alcohol earlier in the day and said he’d taken three prescriptions that morning, Stinson wrote in a different affidavit.

“All three drugs have warnings about driving while using the medication and listing possible negative interactions and increased risk of side effects when combined with alcohol,” Stinson wrote.

Hopkins failed sobriety tests and was arrested, registering a 0.102 percent blood alcohol level at the jail; under state law, a person is considered drunk when their alcohol blood content is at or above 0.08 percent.

Hopkins pleaded not guilty to the charges. Simpson filed a motion to have the case dismissed for lack of evidence in late November — arguing in part that police couldn’t prove Hopkins was the driver of the vehicle or when he drank the alcohol — but earlier this month, the case was scheduled for a change of plea hearing in May.

Editor's note: This version removes incorrect information stating that prosecutors agreed to a bond reduction on Wednesday; in fact, they objected.

23 comments

  • posted by Korinne santini

    April 18, 2017 1:39 pm

    I do get where everyone is coming from but remember we are only human and dealing with painful situations some act different than others in this case he relapsed which is most definitely bound to happen when you are already a recovering addict which in my opinion recovering addicts are the best to treat addicts as they have already been through some of the thing you are going through.. everyone is entitled to their own opinion and mine is that he deserves another chance after he gets help for these difficult times he is going through which no one knows except him.. I've gone to Hopkins for years and he has not only helped me but has been a friend to me and my family.. everyone makes mistakes some worse than others forgiveness is one thing that needs to be spread not hatred he is an addict he needs help from loved ones not all this negative stuff on how horrible he is which is one reason this town sucks everyone here only knows how to talk crap about others suffering from serious problems instead of trying to support them and bring them back up.. I pray for recovery for you Hopkins and wish u the best in the years to come!!!

  • posted by Katya Mescherskaya

    April 07, 2017 1:12 pm

    In Russian children’s centers for behavioral health psychiatrists give injections of forbidden psychotropics such as Sulfozinum and Chlorpromazine to children into the most sensitive parts of their bodies: heels, elbows, necks. It is known that the injections of these psychotropics are very painful even if they are given into the front outer side of the thigh. As well is it known the consequences of their usage in order to suppress obstinate children and natural children’s activity by pain and pharmalogical tortures since children are helpless and they cannot prove anything. Russian psychiatry in general has punitive and repressive features. In the case with children it can be seen the most clearly.

  • posted by David Young

    March 30, 2017 6:30 pm

    Lou, what are you talking about. He should have his license cancelled and prevented from practicing. You should be requesting justice for his completely irresponsible and dangerous actions, but instead you're cheering him on?

  • posted by Celina Pearson

    March 30, 2017 10:33 am

    People who take on the responsibility of helping others must hold themselves above reproach in their own behavior. This man's behavior is irresponsible and, in my opinion, criminal. He should not be trusted to "help" others, since he evidently cannot help himself.

  • posted by Mike W.

    March 29, 2017 10:30 am

    Even setting aside the extreme irresponsibility shown by "huffing and driving"—also known as criminal negligence—who in his right mind would believe this man can actually HELP people with addiction problems?

    He can't even help himself.

    Regardless of how the assault charge plays out, he should lose his psychiatric license on grounds of incompetence.

  • posted by Carol Frey

    March 28, 2017 6:18 am

    "Physician, heal thyself" -- unless the cure you've been trained to use doesn't work. It apparently doesn't. He shouldn't be allowed to treat others!

  • posted by Vera Chandra

    March 28, 2017 1:07 am

    I can understand how easily he slipped into illigal persciption, because "selling" adictive drugs is all what a psych does.It is business as usual. There is no understanding,no healing no good future for the patients.
    Why not earn some bucks more??
    The damage to the society is imense.
    He should stay in prison for a long time.

  • posted by Cowboy Gridder

    March 27, 2017 12:22 pm

    The all-pervasive problem lies in the education all psychiatrists and many psychologists get. It tells them they know you better than you know you. That makes them "superior" to you. Next step is they're above laws that restrict you and me. Next step is taking sexual advantage--not saying Hopkins did that--where they see other human's bodies as "less important than" the shrinks. We're only here to satisfy their pleasures or fatten their bank accounts.

  • posted by Don

    March 27, 2017 11:03 am

    Wow, are you kidding me? "Hang in there"? What moron would excuse someone intentionally causing harm to another? Knowingly trying to get high while driving is not OK, not legal and he should be left in jail to sober up for 10 years. I have had my car totaled twice, once by a drunk and once by a woman on her psych meds. Poor Matt? What about his current and potential victims?

  • posted by David F. Wiegand

    March 27, 2017 4:42 am

    Yes Matt, do hang in there, and get some help for your drug habit. Additionally, how about getting OUT of the psychiatric industry. It is obvious it has NOT helped you.

  • posted by Linda Murawski

    March 27, 2017 4:16 am

    This is what insanity is. A man who is labeled "to help others" is a drug abuser and abuses those who come to him for help. He should be locked up in an insane asylum as reciprocation for his actions.

  • posted by Ed McCloskey

    March 27, 2017 3:22 am

    The guy is a psychiatrist who has gone off the rails more than once for pete's sake!! The prosecutor's office is rightly working to protect the public from this individual who over a long period of time has shown he will not/cannot reform himself. Let's allow justice to run its course and remove him from the streets and medical practice for the safety of patients and the general public.

  • posted by Maria

    March 27, 2017 2:40 am

    Are you serious, Lou Szari? You think this man should ever be allowed to have patients again? Is it not obvious he cannot help himself in any way, shape or form? You want him to keep taking money from people with problems who he most definitely does not know how to help? This man has proven he should not be allowed to practice ever again and should be locked up for a long time. Disgusting!

  • posted by Alan Dille

    March 27, 2017 1:26 am

    Common sense and Responsibility dictates one needs as Clear a mind as possible when Driving a 3000 Pound automobile down the road. I invite anyone to go to any Junk yard and see all the crashed cars. Why up your odds needlessly; by taking any drug, that alters perception?

  • posted by Jeri

    March 27, 2017 1:18 am

    Psychiatists prescribe toxic mind alternating drugs to alter the brains of humans usually causing long term harm
    Karma always comes back around

  • posted by Cara e.

    March 26, 2017 9:58 pm

    This person is a dangerous liability to himself and others obviously and needs help certainly, but the fact that he could write prescriptions to himself and hasn't had his license revoked again or that it was ever reinstated the first time is negligent. This person has proven more than once that he is unfit to hold a medical license.

  • posted by Alison Doran

    March 26, 2017 9:49 pm

    Why is it that so many psychiatrists get in trouble for substance abuse? Oh, yeah. Because they are the legal drug pushers of this world.

  • posted by Dan

    March 26, 2017 9:26 pm

    This man is clearly ill. He needs to be relieved of his duties as a doctor immediately and taken into care. How many chances can we give to people?

  • posted by Joanne

    March 26, 2017 8:21 pm

    Okay, that's being entirely too forgiving. Driving under the influence has and does and can kill people. He was recently busted for that, and did it again - crashing into another vehicle. Whether his intent was to cause deadly harm or not, it doesn't take many brains to know that driving that way endangers others as well as self. To wish a person who has little control over his own addiction. to continue counseling others, is clearly not advised.

  • posted by Debby Rabold

    March 26, 2017 8:21 pm

    Wait a minute.... This man was fortunate enough to have the opportunity of an education, and to become a psychiatric doctor. He swore to the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm. He's an "addiction psychiatrist". Yet, he has multiple addictions, is irresponsible and a danger to the public, having passed out at the wheel on multiple occasions and caused accidents with other drivers. It's time for the court to get serious with this man, and put him in a situation where he cannot drive, cannot get any substance, and will receive appropriate care to address his addiction issues. His medical license should be permanently revoked, and he needs to make restitution to the people he harmed.

  • posted by Ken Kramer

    March 26, 2017 6:55 pm

    The state should immediately suspend his license which is currently active.

  • posted by joseph Z hatmaker

    March 26, 2017 1:20 pm

    Chin up Matt ! We still love and support you.

  • posted by Lou Szari

    March 23, 2017 5:11 pm

    Matt Hang in there you have many friends who are hoping you are able to continue your work with your patients. Every man has limits and only the few very lucky ones never bump into them. I sure hope that your prosecutor is not running for office and using your situation as an attention getter.

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