Tale of Illinois cop's fall from grace grows darker with every turn
An investigation into the death of a Fox Lake, Ill., police officer has revealed a series of scandals. The latest investigation found text messages sent to organize a 'hit' on a village administrator.
Gilbert R. Boucher II/Daily Herald/AP
A Fox Lake, Ill., policeman, once praised as a hero and exemplary 30-year veteran, tried to arrange the killing of an official that might have exposed his corruption, police say.
Text messages revealed Police Lieutenant Charles Joseph Gliniewicz attempted to arrange a meeting with a high-ranking gang member to put a hit on a village administrator that could expose Lt. Gliniewicz’s embezzlement scheme, according to Lake County Sheriff’s Detective Christopher Covelli.
Investigators also discovered packets of cocaine in Lt. Gliniewicz's desk that authorities suspect he may have intended to plant on the dead administrator.
Police officials announcing this week that Gliniewicz committed suicide and was not gunned down while pursuing suspects shocked residents of the small village this week. He had been a beloved member of the local community, remembered as "a true American hero" by locals. Thousands attended his funeral as the community honored him as a fallen hero. Subsequent investigations suggest Gliniewicz's public persona did not match his personal life.
Investigators say that Gliniewicz's death was a carefully staged suicide and during the last few weeks of his life, he worried of being exposed for embezzlement by a village administrator. Gliniewicz had been embezzling from a Police Explorers Program he oversaw for seven years to pay his mortgage, travel expenses, gym memberships, and adult website subscriptions, according to Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko.
Authorities suspect that at least two other people are suspected of criminal activity and are investigating Gliniewicz's wife and son in relation to the embezzlement.
Despite commendations and praise for good work early in his career, Gliniewicz received several reprimands and suspensions in the last few years for lying about being sick and misleading motorists with wrong court dates on their traffic citations.
A dispatcher complained to officials in 2003 that Gliniewicz had confronted her with a gun in the radio room after a disagreement. She says he told her he could put three bullets in her chest.
Weeks later, the chief eliminated Gliniewicz's job as commander of support services, citing "problems with the communications division." Three years later, in 2006, he was promoted to lieutenant.
An anonymous letter was sent to then-Mayor Cynthia Irwin complaining about Gliniewicz and offering support from local bouncers about Gliniewicz being belligerent in bars, alleged sexual harassment, and other forms of professional misconduct.
This report contains material from Reuters and The Associated Press.