Text messages between Gliniewicz, widow might be allowed in trial
An appellate court decision may have opened the door for prosecutors to introduce at trial potentially incriminating text messages and emails between Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz and his widow, Melodie, regarding stolen funds.
The 2nd District Appellate Court said in a written ruling Friday that Lake County Judge James Booras should have reopened a hearing to determine whether to ban from trial electronic communications between the couple after prosecutors recovered a signed waiver from Melodie Gliniewicz that allowed the FBI to review her phone.
Melodie Gliniewicz, 53, of Antioch Township, has pleaded not guilty to charges of unlawful use of charitable funds, conspiracy and money laundering. Authorities allege she helped her husband misuse thousands of dollars from the Fox Lake police Explorer youth program. If found guilty at trial, she could be sentenced up to seven years in prison.
The charges against her surfaced after her husband was found shot to death in a secluded area of Fox Lake on Sept. 1, 2015. Investigators initially believed he died in the line of duty but later discovered he killed himself and made it appear as if he'd been gunned down.
No trial date has been set in the high-profile case.
Lake County prosecutors tried in June 2017 to have potentially incriminating text messages between Joe and Melodie Gliniewicz introduced at Melodie Gliniewicz's trial. However, defense attorneys argued the state's marital privilege laws blocked prosecutors from doing so.
Booras ruled in favor of Melodie Gliniewicz and determined all electronic communication with her husband was protected. The ruling prohibited the messages from being introduced at her trial.
Prosecutors appealed the decision to the state appellate court that month, putting the case in limbo for more than a year. While it was being reviewed at the appellate court level, prosecutors recovered a waiver signed by Melodie Gliniewicz in 2015 in which she agreed to allow the FBI review her phone. Prosecutors sent that waiver to the appellate court, causing the case to be kicked back to Booras to determine if the document would have reversed his decision.
Booras ruled in May 2018 to not reopen the case and review the document.
Last week, the appellate court said in its 21-page ruling that Booras should have reopened the case because of the new evidence. Justices reversed his decision and sent the case back to Lake County.
Investigators claimed Joseph Gliniewicz killed himself because he was trying to cover up an embezzlement of funds from the Explorer post. Authorities said the couple used those funds to pay for a trip to Hawaii, movie tickets, pornography websites and more than 400 restaurant charges.