Disturbing new details emerge in probe of disgraced Fox Lake cop
FOX LAKE, Ill. (AP) — Disturbing new details have emerged in the investigation into an Illinois police officer who staged his suicide to make it seem like he died in the line of duty, subjecting his community to an expensive and fruitless manhunt.
Months before the staged suicide, officials say the rogue cop apparently sought a hit man to kill a village administrator he feared would expose him as a thief.
Det. Chris Covelli said Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz sent a text in April asking a woman to set up a meeting with a "high ranking gang member to put a hit on the village manager."
Gliniewicz sent another message in May saying he had thought of "planting things," which made more sense after investigators found small packages of cocaine in Gliniewicz's desk after he died, Covelli said.
READ MORE | Lt. Gliniewicz carefully staged suicide after committing criminal acts
READ: Gliniewicz Personnel File (PDF)
The drugs were "not linked to any case that we could find," raising the possibility that the lieutenant sought to frame the manager, Anne Marrin, as a drug criminal before she could expose him as an embezzler, the detective said.
"We never found any explanation why those drugs were in his desk at the police station," Covelli said. Investigators also interviewed the gang member, and found no evidence the gang member and Gliniewicz ever talked, Covelli said.
Gliniewicz sent the texts after Marrin, the village's first professional administrator, began auditing Fox Lake's finances, including the Police Explorers program that authorities now say the lieutenant had been stealing from for seven years.
Marrin told reporters Thursday that she believed all of her dealings with Gliniewicz were cordial and never had any sense that he was angry with her. She said she didn't learn about the plots against her until after Gliniewicz's death.
"It's very unsettling. My concern is my family. It's quite unbelievable and almost surreal," she said, adding that police have assured her that she is safe.
After the news of Gliniewicz's alleged contract killing, even more disturbing details are emerging about the disgraced lieutenant's personal life.
According to a report from the Chicago Sun TImes, authorities are investigating whether Gliniewicz and his son, Donald, a soldier in the Army, conducted a sham marriage with the rogue cop’s mistress to improperly take money and benefits from the Army.
Investigators found that Lt. Gliniewicz was having an affair with a woman who was recently divorced and reportedly needed money to support herself and her children. So, officials believe Gliniewicz may have arranged for his oldest son to marry the woman for about a year.
Records show a dissolution of marriage was filed in Lake County at the end of 2014.
Often called "G.I. Joe," Gliniewicz was a respected figure in the bedroom community of 10,000 people 50 miles north of Chicago. His death on Sept. 1, moments after he radioed that he was chasing three suspicious men, prompted an intense manhunt involving hundreds of officers, and raised fears of cop-killers on the loose.
Two months later, authorities announced that he in fact killed himself to cover up his theft of thousands of dollars from a youth program. Now authorities are also investigating his wife, Melodie, and son D.J., an official said Thursday.
Melodie Gliniewicz helped her husband run the Fox Lake Police Explorer Post, which put young people interested in law enforcement careers through sophisticated training exercises. In a newspaper interview weeks ago, D.J. Gliniewicz, an Army soldier in his 20s, angrily dismissed suggestions that his father took his own life.
The official, who was briefed on the investigation, spoke with the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.
A second official who was briefed on the investigation told the AP that Melodie and D.J. Gliniewicz were recipients of a separate set of incriminating text messages from the lieutenant that investigators released Wednesday when they announced the staged suicide.
The official also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.
The official said Melodie Gliniewicz was the person identified as "Individual #1" in the messages released Wednesday, who at one point suggests in a message that she and Joseph Gliniewicz may "need to hide the funds some how."
The official said D.J. Gliniewicz was "Individual #2," whom the officer appears to scold for spending money on personal items. At one point, the officer warns that person that not repaying money to an unspecified account means that person "will be visiting me in JAIL!!" In another message, the officer tells Individual #2 that he has thought through many scenarios involving Marrin, "from planting things to the volo bog," a remote swamp in the area.
Authorities have refused to officially identify anyone beyond the lieutenant who is suspected in any crimes. They also declined to identify the woman Gliniewicz texted about the gang-hit in April, other than to say she is not in law enforcement.
The officer's wife and four children issued a brief statement Wednesday through their lawyers, saying they were grieving. It did not mention suicide or thefts. The attorneys, Henry Tonigan and Andrew Kelleher, didn't respond to voicemail and email messages sent Thursday.
As the probe into Gliniewicz's death stretched on, suspicion grew that he had killed himself, but investigators publicly treated it as a homicide investigation until announcing Wednesday that he shot himself. The lieutenant fired first at his cellphone and ballistics vest, then inserted his handgun inside the vest and fired at his heart. According to the results of the investigation, he then fell forward as he was dying, scraping his face, which could have been an intentional effort to create the appearance of a struggle.
Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko, who led the investigation, said the 30-year police veteran clearly intended to mislead investigators and had the kind of intimate knowledge of crime scenes needed to pull it off.
Recovered text messages and other records show Gliniewicz spent the money on mortgage payments, travel expenses, gym memberships, adult websites, withdrawing cash and making loans, Filenko said.
Marrin says she pressed Gliniewicz the day before his death to share an inventory of his program's assets. He responded the next morning, promising to deliver it that afternoon.
Instead, he killed himself.
Just why he tried to make it look like murder remains unclear. Filenko said he didn't know whether a suicide finding would prevent his family from receiving benefits.
The huge outpouring of grief in the village where the 52-year-old officer had long been a role model has been replaced by a sense of betrayal. Many tributes to their slain hero have come down. Some signs praising "G.I. Joe" have been replaced, one by a poster labeling him "G.I. Joke."
A look at some of the messages released this week:
In a May 13 message to D.J Gliniewicz, the officer appears to be talking about new village administrator Anne Marrin, who was reviewing finances and assets of all village departments, including the Fox Lake Police Explorer program for young people interested in law enforcement careers. Her questions left the elder Gliniewicz feeling he was about to be exposed, authorities say.
Gliniewicz: "She hates me and I've never said more than 3 sentences to her the year shes been here. ... If she gets ahold of the old checking account, im pretty well f(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)ed."
Son: "Hopefully she decides to get a couple of drinks in her and she gets a dui."
Gliniewicz: "She does, but not around here and no one knows where. Trust me ive thougit through MANY SCENARIOS from planting things to the volo bog!!!"
The volo bog is a remote swamp in northern Illinois.
On April 14, a worried Gliniewicz and his wife exchange messages about money, a retirement date and whether someone, presumably Marrin, has the authority to do what she is doing.
Wife: "...maybe we need to hide the funds some how."
In a June 22 message, Gliniewicz informs his wife that he used the Explorer account to pay for a travel expense:
Gliniewicz: "Used the exploder acct for the flight, $624.70. It can wait for a while, their acct is sitting at $3000'ish now."
In messages on June 25, Gliniewicz urges his son to start returning money into a certain account:
Gliniewicz: "You are borrowing from that 'other' account, when you get back youll have to start dumping money into that account or you will be visiting me in JAIL!! The 1600 and the 777 all came from there"
Gliniewicz: "And FYI, all but 1500 of everything borrowed came from that 'other' acct, hence why I closed the us bank and opened bmo acct to keep it from being traced."
In messages on June 26, Gliniewicz appears to warn his son about failing to return loaned money quickly enough.
Gliniewicz: "I'm sticking my neck out there with loaning you over $2377.00 to fix your truck specifically and only to help accommodate your summer leave, trip to OK (Oklahoma). I would not have otherwise. I can't even pay for state now cause their account is down to %1578.72. ... I will need you to do an allotment to their account, at min $100 a month VERY SOON!!"
Gliniewicz: "So if called on the carpet i can say, 'we give our explorers and advisors loans from time to time if it is needed, and this is proof it is being pad (paid) back' you get whwre I'm comong from? This village administrater hates me and the explorer program. This situation right here would give her the means to CRUCIFY ME it (if) it were discovered."
Personnel records for the Illinois police officer who authorities say killed himself after years of embezzlement reveal a troubled on-the-job history going back years.
The village of Fox Lake released Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz's personnel file late Thursday. Authorities revealed this week that the 30-year police veteran, who was found dead Sept. 1, staged his suicide to look like he'd been shot in the line of duty in order to mislead investigators. He killed himself, they say, because he believed his years of stealing money from a youth program were about to be exposed.
Documents in his personnel file dating back to the 1980s reveal troubles ranging from lying about being sick to carrying on an inappropriate sexual relationship with a subordinate officer and appearing to threaten to kill a dispatcher.
Here are some of the more troubling notes:
May 11, 1988: A fellow officer finds Gliniewicz passed out in his truck after drinking, with his foot on the gas and the engine at full throttle. The officer had the truck towed and took Gliniewicz home. When he awoke, Gliniewicz, who couldn't remember the incident, reported his truck stolen. He was not disciplined, but the fellow officer noted it was not the first time something like this happened.
June 17, 1988: Gliniewicz receives a written reprimand for failing to pat down a prisoner, who was later found with a knife in his cell and threatening to slit his own wrists.
March 28, 2003: The Fox Lake police chief demands a written explanation as to why Gliniewicz took it upon himself to give himself manager-level access to a call recording system that contained information so sensitive that even the chief didn't have access to it.
April 14, 2003: In a memo to the police chief, a dispatcher complains about Gliniewicz telling her that he would put bullets in her chest after the two had a disagreement about him being in the radio room. The dispatcher wrote that Gliniewicz followed the remark by saying her body might never be found because there are a lot of lakes in the area. She wrote that when he laughed, she began to think his comments were a joke. She added that while she felt threatened at the time, she later believed he was not threatening her. Still, she noted that the nature of the remarks greatly upset her.
April 15, 2003: A day after those remarks, Gliniewicz shows up in the radio room with a large firearm and appears to chamber a round while standing behind the dispatcher, according to a memo from the woman, who calls it an apparent attempt to intimidate her. "What I find extremely disconcerting is that since I've started working there, since October 1991, no one, including Commander has ever done that ... cocked a gun in the Radio Room," she wrote. "Why does he do this after his recent comment about putting '... bullets in my chest'?"
In a follow-up memo in response, Gliniewicz says none of his actions were intended to be threatening.
Oct. 29, 2003: Gliniewicz ordered an officer to leave a crime scene unattended and before evidence technicians arrived because the next shift needed the squad car.
Feb. 1, 2009: Several members of the Fox Lake Police Department write an anonymous letter to the mayor at the time complaining that the police chief has not dealt appropriately with problems involving Gliniewicz that have been brought to his attention.
Among the two-page list of accusations: an inappropriate sexual relationship with a subordinate who later sued the department, other instances of sexual harassment, threatening a dispatcher, being spotted out around town with women other than his wife. The letter also states that bouncers have complained to members of the department that they had to throw Gliniewicz out of bars for being too drunk and refusing to leave after closing time.
The letter also accuses him of allowing members of the youth Police Explorer program unfettered access to department vehicles and equipment at the expense of on-duty officers and of getting a tattoo while on duty.
It was not clear from the file whether any action was taken in response to the letter. The AP attempted to reach the former mayor for comment, but telephone messages were not returned.