Widow of disgraced Fox Lake cop faces misuse of funds, money laundering charges
The widow of disgraced Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was charged Wednesday with a series of financial crimes that her attorneys say make her "a victim of her husband's secret action."
Melodie Gliniewicz, 51, was indicted and charged by a Lake County grand jury with four counts of disbursing charitable funds without authority for personal benefit or use, and two counts of money laundering.
If found guilty at trial of the most serious charges, she can be sentenced to 3 to 7 years in jail. The charges are also probationable.
The Antioch woman turned herself in to the Lake County sheriff's office shortly after the indictment was signed by Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes. She was released from Lake County jail about three hours after posting the required 10 percent of $50,000 bail.
Lawyers for Melodie Gliniewicz said in a statement Wednesday afternoon: "Melodie has suffered greatly over the past few months and continues to move her family forward after the emotionally traumatizing events of September 1, 2015. Considering Melodie's cooperation with law enforcement, she is devastated by the decision to bring charges against her. Melodie is a victim of her husband's secret actions and looks forward to her day in court to show the world her innocence."
Neither defense attorney Donald Morrison nor Gliniewicz commented when they arrived at the sheriff's office for processing, or after Gliniewicz was released from jail about 4:15 p.m.
The charges are related to an investigation that began in November into the finances surrounding the Fox Lake Law Enforcement Explorer Post 300, authorities said.
Lake County sheriff's spokesman Christopher Covelli said the Lake County Major Crime Task Force investigators found inconsistencies in financial documents for Joe Gliniewicz while investigating his September death. During that investigation, task force officials determined Gliniewicz had killed himself and staged the death as a homicide to cover up financial embezzlement from the Explorer group.
Joe Gliniewicz oversaw the Fox Lake Explorers for more than two decades, authorities said, and Melodie Gliniewicz held a fiduciary role in the group as an adult adviser.
Authorities said the task force investigation showed nonbusiness-related funds had been withdrawn and money laundering had occurred.
After the investigation was turned over to the sheriff's office, a team of three detectives and a sergeant was assigned on a full-time basis to investigate more than 10,000 financial documents that were recovered, Covelli said.
"The investigation revealed money was withdrawn from the police Explorer account over the course of several years," Lake County Undersheriff Ray Rose said in a news release. "Detectives determined this money was used to finance a number of personal expenses and personal finances."
Authorities said some of the personal expenses paid from the police Explorer account included a trip to Hawaii, many coffee shop purchases, tickets for the Fox Lake Theatre, and more than 400 restaurant charges.
"Over 400 purchases for just restaurants," Covelli said. "Also, hundreds of other purchases for other personal items, such as Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and movie theater tickets, as well as many other personal purchases."
Soon after the theft and evidence of Joe Gliniewicz's suicide emerged in November, the Lake County state's attorney's office froze several of Melodie Gliniewicz's personal bank accounts as part of the ongoing criminal investigation into the embezzlement scam.
In court documents released in November, officials said the largest cash withdrawal from an Explorer account of $7,000 was deposited into the account of Melodie Gliniewicz.
"Based on the matching amounts and close timing of this cash withdrawal and subsequent deposit, it appears that the $7,000 was transferred from the Explorer ... account to the Melodie Gliniewicz account," the documents said. "The transferring of funds via cash may be indicative of an effort to conceal the activity."
Attorneys for Melodie Gliniewicz previously denied any wrongdoing or "money laundering."
Melodie Gliniewicz's attorneys said in a November news release she learned her account was frozen when she attempted to purchase gas for her vehicle. Because her funds were frozen, the release said, she was unable to pay her mortgage, doctor bills and other family expenses.
The Lake County state's attorney's office has since released about $40,000 in previously frozen funds back to her. That money consisted of individual donations she received after her husband's death and his final paycheck, officials said.
A status hearing regarding the other frozen bank accounts is scheduled for Feb. 2.
"This entire matter has been a sad and tragic saga for the village of Fox Lake," Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim said in the release. "My hope is that we will be able to close this unfortunate chapter and move forward with ensuring a professional and transparent police department dedicated to the citizens of Fox Lake."
Fox Lake officials issued a statement saying allegations Melodie Gliniewicz participated in an embezzlement scheme that victimized a youth organization, its members and the entire community are "extremely disappointing."