Crime & Courts

Judge won't go back on texts ruling in case of late Fox Lake police Lt. Joseph Gliniewicz

Phone activity between late police official, his wife ruled subject to marital privilege

Melodie Gliniewicz grieves during a candlelight vigil Sept. 2, 2015, in Fox Lake for her husband, police Lt. Charles Joseph "Joe" Gliniewicz.
Melodie Gliniewicz grieves during a candlelight vigil Sept. 2, 2015, in Fox Lake for her husband, police Lt. Charles Joseph "Joe" Gliniewicz.

Prosecutors’ attempts to introduce text messages between Melodie Gliniewicz and her late husband hit a wall Thursday when a Lake County judge refused to go back on a May 2017 ruling.

Lake County Judge James Booras wasn’t convinced the woman waived a privilege that protects communication between a husband and wife when she signed an FBI consent form in 2015, allowing police to search her phone.

Assistant State’s Attorney Ken LaRue argued Thursday that texts between Melodie Gliniewicz and former Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph “Joe” Gliniewicz could help prove the woman’s involvement in laundering and misusing funds intended for a juvenile police explorer program.

In May 2017, Booras rejected the state’s attempts to use the texts at a future trial.

Prosecutors, who argued the messages weren’t direct testimony, took Booras’ decision to the Illinois Appellate Court, where the case has been tied up for about a year.

The matter was returned only temporarily to Lake County for Thursday’s hearing, because Booras never had the chance to rule on Melodie Gliniewicz’s alleged consent to having her phone searched – consent she gave only after investigators threatened to use a search warrant to examine her phone, defense attorney Donald Morrison said in court filings.

Morrison also questioned why prosecutors, having known about the consent form all along, only recently brought it up.

“There is no way they made any reasonable attempts to find that form,” Morrison said in court. “I don’t know what was going on in the assistant state’s attorney’s mind.”

Although Melodie Gliniewicz signed the form Oct. 8, 2015, prosecutors didn’t receive a copy until this April, and they argued it would have been unethical to use it in their argument before it was provided to them.

Booras rejected the argument, adding that he didn’t think the evidence was “of the utmost importance” since prosecutors couldn’t say for sure what information might be revealed by digging into the couple’s communication.

Within five days, Thursday’s decision will be sent back to the appellate court, where justices will decide how to move ahead.

Approving the motion would have done little more than continue to delay the case, which has been pending for 2½ years, Morrison said in court.

“My point is, your honor, with all that time, Melodie Gliniewicz’s life is on hold,” he said.

Melodie Gliniewicz was charged about three months after Lake County Major Crimes Task Force investigators announced Joe Gliniewicz shot himself. Joe Gliniewicz ran the Fox Lake Police Explorer Post 300 for teens interested in policing. The organization has since disbanded.

Investigators said the officer staged his September 2015 suicide to look like a homicide out of fear his years of embezzlement would be discovered.

Melodie Gliniewicz faces felony charges of money laundering, conspiracy and misusing charitable funds after Lake County authorities accused her of having a role in laundering money and using more than $10,000 worth of charitable funds from the nonprofit group.

Detectives said the police explorer money was used to pay for a trip to Hawaii, as well as at businesses such as Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, a Fox Lake theater and more than 400 other restaurant charges.

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