Judge: Media, public, can attend Gliniewicz hearing Wednesday
The public and news media can attend a court hearing scheduled Wednesday regarding text messages and emails shared between disgraced Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz and his widow, Melodie, a Lake County judge ruled this morning.
Melodie Gliniewicz's attorney Donald Morrison wanted Judge James Booras to close his Waukegan courtroom for the hearing to prevent public disclosure of electronic communications between his client and her husband, who authorities say killed himself in 2015 in an effort to cover up his embezzlement from a police youth program.
Booras refused, saying "the press is the eyes and ears of the public," and have a right to attend the court proceedings.
"Who owns the courtroom? The public does," Booras said. "They have a constitutional right to attend the hearing."
Melodie Gliniewicz, 53, of Antioch Township, faces charges of unlawful use of charitable funds, conspiracy and money laundering alleging she helped her husband misuse thousands of dollars from the Fox Lake police Explorer youth program. She has pleaded not guilty.
Her lawyers and Lake County prosecutors are scheduled to argue Wednesday whether potentially incriminating text messages and emails between Melodie Gliniewicz and her husband should be allowed as evidence at trial.
Booras initially barred the communications in 2017, ruling they were protected by marital privilege. But a state appeals court last year ordered Booras to give the matter a second look after prosecutors produced a 2015 waiver signed by Melodie Gliniewicz in which she gave the FBI permission to review her phone.
Authorities say Joseph Gliniewicz stole thousands of dollars from the Explorer post, and with his wife used those funds to pay for a trip to Hawaii, movie tickets, pornography websites and more than 400 restaurant charges.
The allegations surfaced after Joseph Gliniewicz 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 determined he killed himself and made it appear as if he'd been gunned down.
If found guilty of the charges against her, Melodie Gliniewicz could be sentenced to a maximum seven years in prison.