Probation or prison? Judge set to sentence Gliniewicz widow Tuesday
A Lake County judge will sentence Melodie Gliniewicz on Tuesday for her role in the financial misdeeds of her late husband, disgraced Fox Lake police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz.
In February, Melodie Gliniewicz admitted to one felony count of deceptive practices as part of a plea deal in which she avoided a trial and Lake County prosecutors dismissed 10 other charges against her, including felony counts of disbursing charitable funds without authority for personal use and money laundering.
Authorities say her former husband staged his own death on Sept. 1, 2015, to appear as if he'd been gunned down in the line of duty to head off revelations that he'd been stealing money from a police youth program.
Investigators said the funds stolen from Fox Lake Police Explorer Post 300 were spent on vacations, mortgage payments, gym memberships, pornography websites, coffee shop purchases, theater tickets and more than 400 restaurant charges.
In interviews with police after her husband's death, Gliniewicz said they "borrowed" from the Explorer post but repaid what they took, according to court documents.
The trial had been postponed for years by legal battles over the admissibility of text messages between the spouses. According to court documents, police asked Melodie Gliniewicz about texts found on her husband's phone that made reference to "hiding money."
Even though there will be no trial, Tuesday's sentencing hearing could divulge new information about the case. Attorneys on both sides can present evidence and call witnesses to testify, which could allow the public a chance to learn more about what investigators determined Melodie Gliniewicz's role was in her husband's financial misdeeds.
The felony count of deceptive practices to which Gliniewicz pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum three years in prison, but prosecutors have said they would seek probation. Gliniewicz's attorneys will argue she should receive what is called second-chance probation, an option for some first-time offenders.
Attorney Don Morrison of Kelleher + Holland LLC, part of Gliniewicz's legal team, said the difference is that regular felony probation would result in a conviction on her record for the rest of her life. If the judge decides she deserves second-chance probation and she successfully completes the requirements, the case essentially would be dismissed.
Judge James Booras said in February that he strongly will consider sentencing Gliniewicz to second-chance probation.
The sentencing hearing is set to begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Lake County courthouse in Waukegan.