CHICAGO (AP) — The widow of a northern Illinois police officer who killed himself amid an investigation of his alleged theft of thousands of dollars from a youth program was sentenced on Tuesday to two years probation for her role in the scheme.
Melodie Gliniewicz, who pleaded guilty in February to one felony count of deceptive practices in exchange for prosecutors’ agreement to drop several other charges, faced a maximum sentence of three years in prison. But Lake County Judge James Booras’ sentence was not surprising given that prosecutors did not ask that Gliniewicz be sent to prison.
In sentencing Gliniewicz, Booras said that there was no indication that Gliniewicz took any money from the Fox Lake Explorers Post that her husband oversaw. Booras said her involvement was totally the result of her late husband, Fox Lake Police Lt. Charles Joe Gliniewicz’s scheme to use thousands of dollars from the program’s funds to pay for a vacation, meals, health club membership and other personal expenses.
Further, he said, “The defendant appears to be rehabilitated.”
The sentencing came after an all-day hearing during which Gliniewicz tearfully told the judge that she did not know the extent of her husband’s use of the money from the Fox Lake Explorers program and, in fact, paid money back when she learned what had happened.
“I never took a cent from the Explorers fund, no matter what has been reported,” she said.
Gliniewicz said she has been punished daily for what her husband did, telling the judge that she has been unable to find a job “because of my name” and that her husband’s grave has been defaced by vandals.
The sentencing is the latest chapter in a bizarre story that began after Lt. Gliniewicz was found shot to death on Sept. 1, 2015, shortly after he radioed a dispatcher to report that he was chasing three suspects on foot in the community about 45 miles (72.42 kilometers) northwest of Chicago.
The discovery of his body, with two bullet wounds in his torso, sparked a massive manhunt involving hundreds of officers from area law enforcement agencies, helicopters, heat-sensing sensors and K-9 units, as local residents locked themselves in their homes out of fear that the killers were on the loose.
Weeks later, officials made a stunning announcement that the popular lieutenant known as “G.I. Joe” and whose funeral procession attracted thousands of people who lined the streets to pay their respects, had staged his suicide. Officials later sad the 30-year department veteran stole thousands of dollars from the youth program he oversaw.