CHICAGO – A grand jury has indicted the wife of a disgraced northern Illinois policeman who embezzled money from a youth program and then staged his own suicide to look like a homicide.
Melodie Gliniewicz, 51, turned herself in Wednesday at the Lake County Sheriff's Office when she learned of the grand jury indictment on charges of helping divert money from a program for teens interested in law enforcement careers. She was taken to the county jail, and her bond was set at $50,000.
Her husband, Fox Lake Police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, died Sept. 1. Authorities said he shot himself because he feared discovery of the embezzlement from the Fox Lake Police Explorer Post.
The officer's death touched off a manhunt involving hundreds of officers and raised fears that several killers were on the loose. Joe Gliniewicz was initially hailed as a community hero and praised for his work with the youth program. At the time, Melodie Gliniewicz's tearfully told hundreds of people gathered at a candlelight vigil that Gliniewicz had been her "hero" and her "rock."
Two months after Gliniewicz's death, authorities announced he had killed himself after stealing from the village's Police Explorer program for seven years, prompting tough questions about why it had taken so long to reach that conclusion.
The Lake County State's Attorney's office said in announcing the indictment of Melodie Gliniewicz that money from the police explorer's account was used for expenses including more than 400 restaurant charges, personal payments to a Starbucks and a local theater as well as a trip to Hawaii.
Melodie Gliniewicz was indicted on charges of money laundering and disbursing charitable funds without authority and for personal benefit.
Joe Gliniewicz had run the Explorer program with Melodie Gliniewicz serving as an adviser and in a fiduciary role involving the program's finances, authorities said.
In a statement, attorneys for Melodie Gliniewicz vehemently denied that she took part in her husband's scheme.
"Melodie is a victim of her husband's secret action and looks forward to her day in court to show the world her innocence," said the law firm Kelleher & Buckley.