Why did Gliniewicz's Explorers have so much equipment, money?

  • Lake County sheriff's detective Christopher Covelli holds a police vest found at the Fox Lake Community Center on South Street. Dozens of used ballistic and helicopter helmets, flak jackets, military-grade cots, gun and ammunition holsters, military clothing, and Kevlar inserts for bullet proof vests have been discovered in the basement that was used by the Fox Lake Law Enforcement Explorer Post 300 led by Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz.

      Lake County sheriff's detective Christopher Covelli holds a police vest found at the Fox Lake Community Center on South Street. Dozens of used ballistic and helicopter helmets, flak jackets, military-grade cots, gun and ammunition holsters, military clothing, and Kevlar inserts for bullet proof vests have been discovered in the basement that was used by the Fox Lake Law Enforcement Explorer Post 300 led by Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Inventoried items are boxed up in the basement at the Fox Lake Community Center. Numerous items in the boxes were obtained by Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz for Fox Lake Law Enforcement Explorers Post 300.

      Inventoried items are boxed up in the basement at the Fox Lake Community Center. Numerous items in the boxes were obtained by Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz for Fox Lake Law Enforcement Explorers Post 300. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Dozens of ballistic helmets are the items found in the basement of the Fox Lake Community Center on South Street, which was used as a "clubhouse" by the Fox Lake Law Enforcement Explorer Post 300 led by disgraced Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz.

      Dozens of ballistic helmets are the items found in the basement of the Fox Lake Community Center on South Street, which was used as a "clubhouse" by the Fox Lake Law Enforcement Explorer Post 300 led by disgraced Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Books of blank traffic tickets were just some of the questionable inventory found in the basement at the Fox Lake Community Center on South Street.

      Books of blank traffic tickets were just some of the questionable inventory found in the basement at the Fox Lake Community Center on South Street. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Military surplus are just some of the questionable items found in the building used by the Fox Lake Law Enforcement Explorers Post 300. Investigators say they've learned that some, if not most, of the gear was obtained through forged signatures.

      Military surplus are just some of the questionable items found in the building used by the Fox Lake Law Enforcement Explorers Post 300. Investigators say they've learned that some, if not most, of the gear was obtained through forged signatures. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/13/2015 6:05 PM

Lake County law enforcement and Fox Lake village officials say they are trying to determine how disgraced police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was able to collect $250,000 in funds and amass a cache of used surplus military equipment for the youth program he advised.

The equipment is now boxed up in the basement of the Fox Lake Community Center on South Street, known as the "old Fox Lake Lions Club" or "Explorer Central." The building's basement, which the Fox Lake Law Enforcement Post 300 used as a "clubhouse" and a place to store their gear, is also where a drug-sniffing K-9 police unit has detected drug residue, officials said Friday.

 

Dozens of used ballistic and helicopter helmets, flak jackets, military-grade cots, gun and ammunition holsters, military clothing, and Kevlar inserts for bulletproof vests have been discovered in the basement.

Village Administrator Anne Marrin said village officials and the Lake County sheriff's office are trying to determine where those items came from, what they were used for, and how they ended up in Gliniewicz's possession, rather than with the village police department. Officials said some of the equipment was used for Explorer training, but other items -- such as the helicopter helmets -- were not.

"We don't really know for sure at this point," Marrin said. "We won't know for sure until all of it has been audited and traced back."

Marrin also said she isn't sure how the Explorer post took in an estimated $250,000 over seven years. Investigators determined the figure after it was announced Gliniewicz had killed himself.

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The post received money through donations, from working various parking details around Lake County, and through an annual boot camp Gliniewicz held, Marrin confirmed. However, she said, because a fiscal audit of the Explorers is not completed, it remains unclear how much money the post has raised.

"That's all part of the investigation being done by the (Lake County) sheriff's office and state's attorneys office," she said.

Lake County Task Force Cmdr. George Filenko said Gliniewicz killed himself Sept. 1 after he feared his embezzlement of funds from the Explorer post would be uncovered when Marrin repeatedly pressed him for a complete inventory of the program. Gliniewicz staged his suicide to look like a homicide, Filenko said.

Gliniewicz used funds obtained by the Explorer post as his "personal account," and the task force estimated "over $250,000 flowed through the account itself," Filenko said. He said he didn't know how much money was missing, but the amount of money taken was in the "five-figure range."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The task force did not track where the money came from, he said. Determining the sources of the funds will be done by investigators from the sheriff's and state's attorney's offices as part of the ongoing criminal probe in the case, he said.

In particular, the amount of money Gliniewicz collected for the Explorer post has raised eyebrows, because officials said it's significantly more than other suburban posts have in their financial accounts.

For example, Lake County sheriff's spokesman Christopher Covelli said the county Explorer program takes in about $2,000 to $4,000 annually. Covelli would not discuss the finances associated with the Fox Lake Explorers, saying it was under investigation.

As for the cache of surplus Army equipment, Covelli said investigators learned that some, if not most, of the gear obtained for the Explorer post was through forged signatures.

"In text messages, (Gliniewicz) admitted he forged (former Fox Lake Police Chief Mike) Behan's signature to obtain the items," he said. "Police officers in Fox Lake could use these things, but not youth programs."

Covelli added police officers in Fox Lake did not have most of the items found in the basement of the community center.

"Items that can be used by the police department will be brought over there," he said. "The village will have to decide what to do with the rest of the equipment."

Covelli said the community center was used as a "clubhouse" for the two dozen members of the Explorer post. Post members were given keys for the building and could hang around unsupervised, Covelli said.

A K-9 unit trained to search for narcotics was brought in and "hit" on two or three locations in the basement, Covelli said, but no drugs were recovered after a thorough search of the building.

"Explorers do not need to train with real narcotics in their testing," Covelli said. He said he was unsure why a trained K-9 would smell traces of narcotics in the building.

The Fox Lake Explorers are a "good group of kids dedicated to learning about law enforcement," Covelli said. He added that program procedures have changed.

"Chief (Mike) Keller is changing the program from an aggressive SWAT mentality to learning the basics and essentials of law enforcement, like it's supposed to be," Covelli said.

He added Explorers now train at the police department and are not allowed into village-owned facilities without being supervised.

Also on Friday, Covelli released copies of the Sept. 1 Fox Lake police incident report when Gliniewicz died. It said the responding officer heard a single gunshot upon arriving at the concrete plant.

Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim said his office continues to review how much money was donated to the Gliniewicz family in the days and weeks before it was learned the 30-year police veteran took his own life.

Nerheim said the amount of money donated to the family is in the $500,000 range. BMO Harris Bank has frozen remaining funds in the main memorial account, pending the outcome of the police investigation.

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