The widow of an Illinois police lieutenant who tried to portray his suicide as a murder was indicted this week on 6 counts of participating in her husband’s stealing of charitable funds. Melodie Gliniewicz, 51, is the wife of Fox Lake Police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz, who killed himself last year. Officials allege that her husband staged his suicide to appear as if he was killed in the line of duty pursuing three suspects. The case prompted a massive manhunt until authorities realized it was a scam.
Mrs. Gliniewicz was charged with money laundering and paying personal expenses with funds from the Fox Lake Police Explorer Post that was headed by her late husband for over 25 years. She held a “fiduciary role as an adult adviser” with the group, which encouraged young girls and boys to explore careers in law enforcement and the military.
The misappropriated funds were taken between 2008 and 2015 and were used for personal expenses including Starbucks, movie tickets, Dunkin’ Donuts, and vacations. The list includes over 400 restaurant charges, according to authorities.
Melodie Gliniewicz’s attorneys asserted her innocence and said she is a victim of her late husband’s deception.
“Melodie has suffered greatly over the past few months and continues to move her family forward after the emotionally traumatizing events of September 1, 2015,” when her husband killed himself, said the law firm Kelleher & Buckley, “Considering Melodie’s cooperation with law enforcement, she is devastated by the decision to bring charges against her. Melodie is a victim of her husband’s secret actions and looks forward to her day in court…”
Lt. Gliniewicz was deemed a hero killed in the line of duty and the case reached national attention as a manhunt was instituted to find the officer’s murderers. But, then authorities discovered that he was worried about being sent to jail for misuse of funds and that’s why he staged his death to appear a hero instead of a thief.
His death was a meticulously crafted plan.
“Fox Lake, all of Lake County, and quite frankly the entire country have been through a mix of emotions throughout the Gliniewicz investigations. It is my hope the community can continue healing and rebuilding,” the sheriff said.
“The investigation revealed money was withdrawn from the police explorer account over the course of several years. Detectives determined this money was used to finance a number of personal expenses and personal finances,” Lake County Undersheriff Ray Rose said in a statement.
Gliniewicz was an officer with Fox Lake, a suburb of Chicago, for 30 years.
Shortly before Lt. Gliniewicz, 52, died, he radioed police dispatchers saying that he was chasing 3 male suspects – two Caucasians and 1 African American – at an abandoned cement factory. Responding backup found him shot dead.
Authorities concluded the shooting was self-inflicted after Quantico investigators recovered text messages that were deleted from the officer’s phone. The messages revealed the alleged embezzlement scheme.
Gliniewicz had also served in the Army for 4 years and the Army Reserves for 27. Locals called him “GI Joe”, his reputation contributed to the shock of his death and the outrage that brought about the manhunt. People were just as shocked to find out that he had planned the whole thing to cover up his crimes.
In June of 2015, Gliniewicz sent a text message to his wife stating that he used the “exploder account” to pay for a flight. Authorities believe he meant explorer fund.
Investigators are still looking at another unnamed 3rd person as possibly taking part in the misuse of funds.