Fox Lake pension board delays Gliniewicz hearings
Hearings to determine how much of disgraced Fox Lake police Lt. Joseph Gliniewicz's pension money should be paid to his widow have been delayed until the criminal case against her has been decided.
The Fox Lake pension board voted unanimously to take the step to avoid scheduling additional hearings to consider changing potential rulings after Melodie Gliniewicz's criminal case ends.
"This is not and has not been an easy motion to adjudicate," pension board attorney Laura Goodloe said Thursday. "We are cognizant that Ms. Gliniewicz is not being paid."
The delay was requested by the village of Fox Lake after the pension board voted previously to allow village officials to present evidence and arguments to help decide how much Melodie Gliniewicz should receive from her husband's pension.
During those arguments, Gliniewicz attorney Brian Smith said he intended to hold official depositions with key witnesses for the pension case. Those depositions could include potential witnesses involved in Melodie Gliniewicz's criminal case.
Village attorney Yvette Heintzelman said Thursday she was contacted by prosecutors from the Lake County state's attorney's office who were against witnesses in the criminal case being questioned during the pension hearings. That prompted Heintzelman to file a request to delay the pension hearings until after the criminal case is concluded.
"We are disappointed in the pension board's decision," Smith said, adding Melodie Gliniewicz is "holding up well."
Joe Gliniewicz was found dead by police officers Sept. 1. Initially, members of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force investigated the death as a homicide, but the task force announced two months later Gliniewicz killed himself to cover up financial embezzlement from the police youth Explorer post, where he served as adviser.
In January, Melodie Gliniewicz was charged with unlawful use of charitable funds for personal use, money laundering and conspiracy after authorities accused her of being a part of the conspiracy. She has pleaded not guilty to those charges, and her lawyers have denied she was involved in any wrongdoing.
Melodie Gliniewicz applied for Joe Gliniewicz's pension payments in April. She is eligible to receive about $70,000 annually in pension benefits from the village of Fox Lake, officials have said.
Under law, spouses of Illinois police officers killed in the line of duty are eligible for 100 percent of the officer's salary at the time of death. Families of active officers whose deaths are not considered "line of duty" get less -- spouses generally receive at least 50 percent of the officer's salary and up to 75 percent, experts have said.
Because Joe Gliniewicz was 52 years old with 30 years of police service when he died, Melodie Gliniewicz is eligible to receive 75 percent, experts have said.
The only factor that reduces a police officer's right to a pension is conviction for a job-related felony, pension experts have said. Joe Gliniewicz wasn't convicted of crimes before he died, so there may be no loss of rights.
However, State Sen. Pam Althoff, a McHenry Republican, is sponsoring legislation that would prevent someone from collecting survivor pension benefits if convicted of a felony connected to a spouse's official duties.