Personnel records show years of complaints against Illinois officer
FOX LAKE, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois police officer who staged his suicide to make it look like he was murdered had a troubled job history, ranging from numerous suspensions to sexual harassment allegations to complaints that he intimidated an emergency dispatcher with guns, according to his personnel records.
Despite a reputation as a respected youth mentor, Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz also had problems off the job, including one incident in which a sheriff’s deputy found him passed out in his truck and took him home, only to have Gliniewicz report his truck stolen the next day, according to documents in the file.
The records were released late Thursday by the Village of Fox Lake in response to a Freedom of Information request, after a day in which officials said Gliniewicz had sought out a hit man to kill a village administrator he feared would expose him as a thief, and may have planned to plant cocaine on the administrator to discredit her as a criminal.
The image of Gliniewicz that’s emerged in recent days stands in stark contrast to the hero’s funeral and outpouring of community support after his death in September.
Dubbed “G.I. Joe,” Gliniewicz was a well-known figure in the bedroom community of 10,000 people 50 miles north of Chicago. His death, 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. Thousands attended his funeral, and he was held up as the latest example of dangers faced by police.
The huge outpouring of grief has now been replaced by a sense of betrayal after investigators revealed on Wednesday that he had elaborately planned his own killing after stealing and laundering money from a Police Explorers Program he oversaw for seven years. In his last weeks, he feared he was about to be exposed by a new village administrator.
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, said Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko, who led the investigation.
A detective involved in the investigation told the AP on Thursday that Gliniewicz apparently also sought a hit man to kill the village administrator, Anne Marrin. Det. Chris Covelli said 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” Marrin.
Authorities now are also investigating Gliniewicz’s wife, Melodie, and son D.J., an official said Thursday. 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 briefed on the investigation told the AP that Melodie and D.J. Gliniewicz were recipients of incriminating text messages from the lieutenant that investigators released Wednesday when they announced the staged suicide. That official also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.
Authorities have said their investigation points to criminal activity by at least two other people have refused to identify those individuals.
The family’s attorneys, Henry Tonigan and Andrew Kelleher, have not responded to numerous voicemail and email messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Gliniewicz’s police personnel file contained numerous commendations for good work early in his career with the department, which began in 1985. But in just a few years, he was racking up reprimands and suspensions for lying about being sick and giving motorists the wrong court dates on their traffic citations.
In 2003, a dispatcher complained Gliniewicz tried to intimidate her by bringing guns into the radio room after the two had a disagreement during which Gliniewicz allegedly told her he could put three bullets in her chest if she didn’t stop acting foolishly.
A couple weeks later, the chief eliminated Gliniewicz’s job as commander of support services because of his “problems with the communications division.”
But there is no evidence Gliniewicz got in serious trouble, and in 2006, he was promoted to lieutenant in control of the patrol division.
A letter in the file dated Feb. 1, 2009, addressed to then-Mayor Cynthia Irwin and signed only by “Anonymous Members of the Fox Lake Police Department” outlined complaints about Gliniewicz that included: allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate officer and the sexual harassment of a dispatcher, complaints from bouncers at local bars for being drunk and belligerent, and allegations that he allowed members of the youth program unsupervised access to the police department and the opportunity to wear clothing labeled “police,” misidentifying themselves as officers.
It was not clear from the file whether any action was taken in response to the letter. The AP attempted to reach Irwin late Thursday for comment, but telephone messages were not immediately returned.
Babwin can be reached on Twitter at @dbabwin.