Disgraced Fox Lake cop's widow renews request to collect his pension
Melodie Gliniewicz wants to reverse a previous police pension board decision that blocked her from collecting payments for her deceased husband, Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz.
Attorneys for Melodie Gliniewicz have filed a formal request with the Fox Lake police pension board to reverse a 2016 ruling that delays any payments until after the criminal case against her is completed.
Her attorney, Brian Smith, said the pension board expects to hear the request Dec. 21 at Fox Lake Village Hall, 66 Thelen Drive.
Mayor Donnie Schmit said Tuesday he is unable to comment on the pension issue.
Under the law, a spouse of an Illinois police officer 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.
In the case of Joe Gliniewicz, his wife could receive about $70,000 annually, officials have said.
Joe Gliniewicz was found dead by Fox Lake police officers Sept. 1. Initially, authorities investigated the death as a homicide, but they later determined he killed himself to cover up financial embezzlement from the police youth Explorer post, where he served as adviser.
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.
Due to delays in the criminal case, no trial date has been set.
According to the documents obtained Tuesday by the Daily Herald, Melodie Gliniewicz filed the necessary paperwork to begin collecting the pension in January 2016.
At the request of village officials, the pension board agreed to delay any decision pending her criminal case, because the Lake County state's attorney's office did not want witnesses in the criminal case being questioned during pension hearings.
In the most recent filing, Gliniewicz's attorneys said delays in Melodie Gliniewicz's criminal proceedings have forced the pension payment to be dragged out for more than 737 days. The motion also says the village has "no grounds to disqualify the petitioner (Gliniewicz) from receipt of survivor benefits."
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, experts said.
Legislators have since approved an amendment to the pension code blocking the payment of survivor benefits to a person convicted of a felony connected to the service of a police officer. It is believed the law cannot retroactively apply to the Gliniewicz pension.