- Associated Press - Thursday, November 5, 2015

FOX LAKE, Ill. (AP) - The revelation that a “hero” police officer stole money and killed himself in a way that made it appear he was gunned down in the line of duty has shaken a small town in northern Illinois. And the drama may not be over. Authorities say they have strong evidence at least two others were involved in the embezzlement of thousands of dollars from the Fox Lake Police Explorer youth program led by Lt. Charles Gliniewicz. One official says the officer’s wife and one of their sons is under investigation. The family accepted thousands of dollars in donations when people thought Gliniewicz gave his life to keep them safe. What now?


Q: How did this all start?

A: Gliniewicz became anxious after Fox Lake hired its first professional administrator, Anne Marrin, who made it one of her first orders of business to review finances and inventory assets of all village departments, including the Explorer program.

Marrin told The Associated Press that the lieutenant didn’t seem to have answers, which made her want to look deeper. She said their emails were neither heated nor tense, and that he responded “Yes, ma’am” when she asked for documents. Still, he avoided producing the numbers until his dying day.

“He emailed me … and said I’ll have it to you by 1 or 2 (o’clock). And then the incident happened,” she said.


Q: So, what was he up to?

A: Gliniewicz, a 30-year veteran with a base salary of $92,000, embezzled thousands of dollars from the village’s Police Explorer program for seven years, spending the money on mortgage payments, travel expenses, gym memberships and adult websites while making loans and cash withdrawals, according to Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko.

In the latest twist, a Det. Chris Covelli told the AP Thursday that Gliniewicz also tried to find a hit man to kill Marrin, and may have considered planting cocaine to discredit her with a drug possession arrest.


Q: What led to that conclusion?

A: As they hunted for three suspects Gliniewicz said he was chasing before he died, investigators following routine protocol sought bank records and other information on the lieutenant as well. The FBI helped retrieve messages he had deleted from his work and personal cell phones and Facebook account. Once recovered, the details were incriminating. Authorities shared some of them, verbatim.

“This village administrater hates me and the explorer program,” he wrote in June in one of those recovered messages. “This situation right here would give her the means to CRUCIFY ME (if) it were discovered.”


Q: Who else was involved?

A: Filenko wouldn’t identify the two other suspects, but an official briefed on the investigation told the AP on Thursday that the lieutenant’s wife, Melodie, and son, D.J., are under investigation. The official isn’t authorized to discuss the probe in public, so spoke on condition of anonymity.

The family - the couple had three other children - issued a brief statement through their lawyers that didn’t mention suicide or thefts, and asked for privacy as they cope with grief. Attorneys Henry Tonigan and Andrew Kelleher didn’t respond to voicemail and email messages seeking comment on Thursday.


Q: Where does the investigation go now?

A: The interdepartmental task force has wrapped up its death investigation and handed evidence of embezzlement over to the Lake County state’s attorney. That evidence is under review and no charges have been filed, said spokeswoman Cynthia Vargas.

Marrin, the village administrator, told reporters Wednesday that “the village fully supports the prosecution of each and every individual who conspired with Lt. Gliniewicz,” adding that “much more work lies ahead.”


Q: What’s next for the community?

A: The town of about 10,000 was on edge for two months, fearing killers were in their midst. Now they’re also feeling emotional whiplash. Much of the town joined in a heartfelt outpouring of grief and solidarity after Gliniewicz’s death, turning out for elaborate ceremonies to honor a fallen officer and comfort his family. Now some want their money back. The 100 Club of Chicago, which aids survivors of officers killed in the line of duty, asked the family to return a $15,000 donation.


Q: Will his family be able to collect his benefits?

A: That remains unclear. Spouses are entitled under state law to the pension of an officer who dies. That statute doesn’t address suicide. Officers convicted of felonies stemming from their police work can have their pensions yanked, but Gliniewicz’s death precludes a trial and conviction.

Illinois’ pension law indicates that an officer with more than three decades of employment could receive at least 75 percent of his salary - about $69,000 in this case. The village pension board said in a statement Thursday that Gliniewicz’s wife hasn’t applied for the benefits yet, and if she does, the board “will convene for an evidentiary hearing and ultimately adjudicate the claim.”

As for life insurance, policies vary when it comes to suicide.


Associated Press writers Michael Tarm and Jason Keyser in Chicago contributed to this report.

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