A judge has sentenced Melodie Gliniewicz, the widow of former Fox Lake Police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz, to probation Tuesday after she pleaded guilty to a charge relating to misusing charitable funds.
Melodie Gliniewicz, 57, of the 38500 block of North Lakeside Place in Antioch, was charged in 2016 with multiple charges, including unlawful use of charitable funds and money laundering.
Gliniewicz and her late husband, Lt. Joe Gliniewicz, stole thousands of dollars from the Fox Lake Police Department’s Explorer Post for personal expenses from September 2009 through 2015, prosecutors have said.
Joe Gliniewicz was found fatally shot in September 2015 after he staged his suicide, prompting a massive manhunt.
Investigators said Joe Gliniewicz feared he was soon going to be caught for misusing the explorer post’s funds.
Gliniewicz’s attorneys and prosecutors met on February 18 at the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan for a hearing in her case.
Gliniewicz pleaded guilty during that hearing to one count of deceptive practice, a Class 4 felony.
In exchange for her guilty plea, prosecutors dismissed all of her other charges.
The deceptive practices charge allows the judge to give Gliniewicz a sentence of conditional discharge, probation or prison.
“We are very pleased that Ms. Gliniewicz is taking legal responsibility for her actions. She deceived the Fox Lake Police Explorer Club and misused their funds. Our lawyers did an excellent job of reaching this negotiation as it foregoes the need for a trial and starts to end a long chapter in this story,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said following the plea.
A jury trial, which was scheduled for February 22, was canceled following Gliniewicz’s guilty plea.
A sentencing hearing began Tuesday morning and continued late into Tuesday afternoon.
Witnesses were called by both prosecutors and Gliniewicz’s defense team to testify.
Towards the end of the hearing, Gliniewicz read a prepared statement to the court and wept most of the time she was speaking.
“I didn’t know my husband was co-mingling his own money into the explorer account until he asked me to write a check back into the account. And I never knew the full amount he was co-mingling until after his death,” she said.
Gliniewicz said she and her children have been “subjected to a litany of death threats” following her husband’s death.
Gliniewicz claimed the media released her address, phone number, social security number and driver’s license number after her arrest, resulting in her accounts being breached.
She also told the court she has not been able to get hired anyway despite applying to many jobs since her arrest.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffrey Facklam during the hearing that Illinois’ Second Chance Probation Program is not appropriate for Gliniewicz. “The defendant treated the Fox Lake Police Explorer bank account as their own account.”
Gliniewicz’s attorney, Donald Morrison, asked the judge to sentence the woman to the Second Chance Probation Program.
After hearing from both sides, Lake County Judge James Booras sentenced Gliniewicz to 24 months of probation and 150 hours of public service work.
A 90-day sentence in the county jail is stayed as long as Gliniewicz successfully completes her probation, Booras said.
Booras said that the imprisonment of Gliniewicz would contribute to hardship for her children.
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said, “This case from 2015 has finally ended with the public learning about Joe and Melodie’s financial crimes. 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.”
“We will still have to wait to see if she is fully rehabilitated and whether she can comply with the court’s orders. But for today, we know that people understand they cannot misuse charitable funds in Lake County without consequences,” Rinehart added.