Fox Lake investigation turns to financial crimes, other targets
The investigation into the money Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz embezzled from the Fox Lake Law Enforcement Explorers youth program didn't end with his death in September, and authorities believe at least two other people were involved.
The Lake County sheriff's office and the U.S. Justice Department are pursuing the case, chasing clues revealed in thousands of emails and text messages between Gliniewicz and at least two other people before he fatally shot himself, as well as financial records.
The trail indicates that for seven years Gliniewicz had been using money from Explorer Post 300 accounts to pay for travel expenses, mortgage payments, adult websites, personal loans and other purposes.
In addition to pilfering money, Gliniewicz forged signatures on requisitions for surplus federal equipment and on Explorer documents, authorities discovered.
The texts and bank statements reviewed by an FBI forensic accountant revealed "extensive criminal activity," Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Cmdr. George Filenko said during a news conference Wednesday.
When asked how much money Gliniewicz stole, Filenko estimated the total in the five-figure range.
Police didn't identify any other suspects in the case, nor has anyone been charged.
Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim said results from the investigation have been turned over to his office, and they are reviewing it. He would not comment further because it's an ongoing investigation.
But excerpts of some of the messages Gliniewicz exchanged with two people about financial issues were released Wednesday. Those messages show Gliniewicz repeatedly spoke with people referred to as "Individual #1" and "Individual #2" about the financial crimes he's accused of committing.
In a message dated April 14, "Individual #1" suggested to Gliniewicz that they should consider hiding unspecified funds.
In a message dated May 13, Gliniewicz told "Individual #2" that he'd be in trouble if an unnamed village official "gets ahold of the old checking account."
In a message to "Individual #1" dated June 22, Gliniewicz acknowledged using $624.70 from the Explorer account to purchase an airline ticket.
And in a message June 25, Gliniewicz told "Individual #2" to "start dumping money into that account or you will be visiting me in JAIL!!"
The text messages were uncovered during the investigation into Gliniewicz's death. Fox Lake village officials, however, had independently been reviewing the Explorer group's finances before his death. That review was part of a "systematic" audit of the village's books, Filenko said.
Fox 32 News reported late Wednesday that Gliniewicz's wife, Melodie, and son D.J. are under investigation in connection with the embezzlement of funds from the Fox Lake Police Explorer Program, citing anonymous sources.
According to Filenko, Gliniewicz believed his thefts were going to be uncovered in that audit, and those fears led to his suicide.
Pressure had been building in the six months before Gliniewicz died, Filenko said. Even if Gliniewicz hadn't taken his own life, his crimes would have been discovered, he said.
In a statement she read to the media during Wednesday's news conference, Fox Lake Village Administrator Anne Marrin said she felt personally threatened by some of the texts police recovered. Marrin said village officials support the prosecution of anyone who conspired with Gliniewicz.
"The community is the real victim here," Marrin said.
In a statement released Wednesday, Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmidt asked residents to be patient as the investigation continues.
"We know that learning that the village has been the victim of criminal activity is tough news to hear," he said. "But during this time, as our community's elected and appointed leaders, we must lead and we must show that we are united in our goal to get at the truth, wherever it may lead."