Disgraced Illinois cop's widow lands in prosecution's crosshairs
The wife of the late Illinois police officer Joe Gliniewicz is now facing felony charges of money laundering and disbursing charitable funds illegally.
The widow of a disgraced northern Illinois police officer, believed to have embezzled government money and staged his suicide to look like murder, has been indicted by a grand jury.
Melodie Gliniewicz is in police custody after she turned herself in to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday. She faces felony charges of disbursing charitable funds illegally and money laundering, according to a statement by state’s attorney officials.
Ms. Gliniewicz first gained public attention after Joe Gliniewicz, her husband, died and prompted a massive manhunt by police to find three alleged murderers. Police soon came to the conclusion that Mr. Gliniewicz had staged his suicide to look like a murder in an attempt to cover up money laundering and embezzlement.
"This entire matter has been a sad and tragic saga for the Village of Fox Lake," Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim told Reuters.
Police say Gliniewicz staged his suicide after the town of Fox Lake hired its first professional administrator to audit all departments. Investigators say he was afraid the audit would expose the fact that he had been embezzling from a a police club for youth for years.
Ms. Gliniewicz’s arrest is linked to financial inconsistencies in the police explorer program her husband ran for more than 20 years. She held a fiduciary role as an adviser to the program and has been charged with disbursing charitable funds without authorization and for personal gain, as well as the charge of money laundering.
In announcing the indictment, state’s attorney officials also revealed that money from the account had been used for more than 400 restaurant charges, Starbucks charges, tickets for a local theater, and a trip to Hawaii.
At the time of her husband’s death, Gliniewicz told the public her husband had been her “hero” and her “rock” at a candlelight vigil.
Ms. Gliniewicz now maintains that she was a victim and had no knowledge of her husband’s actions. Her attorneys deny all accusations and say she has been devastated by the charges.
"Melodie is a victim of her husband's secret actions and looks forward to her day in court to show the world her innocence," her attorneys at Kelleher & Buckley said in a statement.
She has been released from jail after posting a portion of her $50,000 bond.
This report includes material from The Associated Press and Reuters.