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Illinois lawmakers make Gliniewicz-inspired effort to deny pension benefits to convicted spouses

Published: Monday, Feb. 27, 2017 12:47 a.m. CDT

FOX LAKE – Melodie Gliniewicz’s effort to collect her disgraced late husband’s pension has prompted another effort by state lawmakers to prevent similar cases from happening again.

House Bill 350, which passed the Illinois House on a 108-0 vote Friday, would allow for the forfeiture of survivor benefits for anyone convicted of a felony related to the service of any public employee. The bill was filed last month by state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, with the convening of the new General Assembly.

The bill now heads to the Illinois Senate for consideration.

Melodie Gliniewicz faces felony charges of money laundering, conspiracy and misusing charitable funds relating to the now-disbanded Police Explorers youth program run by her late husband, Fox Lake Lt. Joseph Gliniewicz.

Joe Gliniewicz was found shot to death Sept. 1, 2015, after radioing in that he was pursuing three suspicious people.

Months after a massive police manhunt turned up empty, investigators announced that he committed an elaborately staged suicide meant to hide years of embezzling money from the youth program’s funds.

If signed into law, the legislation only will apply to pensions of employees hired after its effective date and cannot be used against Melodie Gliniewicz – the Illinois Constitution forbids altering the conditions of existing benefits.

McSweeney’s first attempt at passing a law was filed after the end of last year’s spring session and never made it out of committee. An effort last term by state Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, suffered a similar fate.

Melodie Gliniewicz, whose trial has been pushed back a number of times, is set to go to trial in Lake County court in May. Her effort to get the survivor’s pension, which would amount to between 50 percent and 75 percent of her husband’s $96,000 salary at the time of his death, is on hold pending the outcome of her trial.

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