Gliniewicz widow receives 24 months of special probation for role in husband's financial misdeeds
A Lake County judge on Tuesday sentenced Melodie Gliniewicz to 24 months of second-chance probation for her felony plea in connection with the financial misdeeds of her late husband, disgraced Fox Lake police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz.
Second-chance probation is an option for some first-time offenders. If Gliniewicz successfully completes the program's requirements, the case against her essentially will be dismissed.
Additionally, Gliniewicz will have to perform 150 hours of community service, Lake County Judge James Booras ordered at a Tuesday morning sentencing hearing. Booras also sentenced her to 90 days in Lake County jail, which she would serve only upon violating the terms of her probation.
The felony count of deceptive practices Gliniewicz pleaded guilty to in February is punishable by a maximum of three years in prison. Prosecutors said before Tuesday's hearing they would not seek prison time.
"She said she was guilty, and that public acknowledgment, along with successful monitoring from our felony probation unit, will protect our community and prevent her from financially deceiving others again," Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said. "People understand they cannot misuse charitable funds in Lake County without consequences."
Gliniewicz admitted guilt as part of a plea deal to avoid a trial. Lake County prosecutors dismissed 10 other charges against her, including felony counts of disbursing charitable funds without authority for personal use, and money laundering.
Before the judge's ruling, Gliniewicz claimed she first discovered her husband had been using charitable funds for his personal expenses when he asked her to deposit money into the Explorer post's account to cover what he'd spent. Prosecutors presented evidence that she wrote such checks 18 times before Joe Gliniewicz's death.
Gliniewicz said Tuesday she and her family have been subjected to death threats and harassment from community members ever since authorities determined her former husband staged his own death on Sept. 1, 2015.
"I think the worst is the consistent desecration of my husband's grave," Gliniewicz said between tears. "I took my youngest son there, and everything was broken and a knife had been stabbed into his grave."
She asked people not to think of her husband's financial misdeeds as being done out of malice but rather out of a "lack of skill."
John Schmid, an FBI forensic accountant, testified Tuesday morning with more details on Joe Gliniewicz's misuse of charitable funds. According to bank documents, Joe Gliniewicz was the sole signatory on the Fox Lake Police Explorer Post 300's checking account from around 2009 to April 2015.
It was from this account that the majority of the personal spending occurred, including a trip to Hawaii that cost around $8,000, more than $1,000 in checks signed by Joe Gliniewicz made out to his family members, and payments to pornographic and adult dating websites.
Joe Gliniewicz had the village pay a portion of his police department salary directly into the first Fox Lake Explorer post checking account, an amount eventually totaling $26,800. He also worked out a deal under which the village deposited $32,000 from his retirement fund into the Explorer account as a loan that he would use and then pay back in $606.82 monthly installments.
Shortly after the village deposited the money, Joe Gliniewicz used the Explorer account to pay about $15,000 in student loan debt and began planning for the Hawaii trip, financial documents show.
In April 2015, the first checking account was closed and a second Fox Lake Explorer post checking account at a different bank was opened, this one with both Joe Gliniewicz and Melodie Gliniewicz as signatories.
While being questioned by Gliniewicz's legal team, Schmid said he found no evidence that any of the spending from either of the two Fox Lake Explorer accounts was done by her or that she ever possessed a debit card or checkbook associated with the accounts.
In interviews with police after her husband's death, Gliniewicz said they always would pay back what they spent from the Explorer account, which is reflected in the financial documents Schmid assessed.
Assistant State's Attorney Jeffrey Facklam argued second-chance probation was not an appropriate sentence because while Melodie Gliniewicz claimed to take full responsibility, she has consistently downplayed her involvement in and knowledge of her husband's actions.
"If given second-chance probation, it would depreciate the seriousness of this," Facklam said.
Gliniewicz's attorney, Don Morrison, said the defense team was confident Judge Booras would be able to see her as an excellent candidate for second-chance probation.
"She is somebody that doesn't deserve to be saddled with this conviction for the rest of her life," Morrison said.