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'G.I. Joe' Cop Allegedly Sought Gang Member to Kill Village Official Before Staging Own Murder

Investigators say disgraced Fox Lake police officer Joseph Gliniewicz, who stole thousands from a youth program, sent his wife and son text messages suggesting he had considered ways to frame or kill the town manager.

by Reuters and VICE News
Nov 6 2015, 4:45pm

Photo by Nam Y. Huh/AP

VICE News is closely watching policing in America. Check out the Officer Involved blog here.

The Illinois police officer who staged his own suicide to make it look like murder allegedly sought out a hit man to kill a local official whom he believed was on the verge of uncovering the cop's years-long fraud involving a youth group he oversaw.

Fox Lake Police Department's Lieutenant Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, a husband and father of four, allegedly text-messaged a woman in April seeking a "high-ranking gang member to put a hit on the village manager," Detective Chris Covelli told the Associated Press.

The officer later sent another text in May saying he had considered "planting things" on Village Administrator Anne Marrin, who had begun an audit of Fox Lake's finances, before she had a chance to discover the cop's scam, police said. Investigators later connected that message with several small bags of cocaine police found in Gliniewicz's desk after his death in September.

"We never found any explanation why those drugs were in his desk at the police station," Covelli said.

Marrin said Thursday that the revelations were "surreal" and that all interactions she had previously had with Gliniewicz, a well-liked officer whom many in the village dubbed "G.I. Joe" because of his service in the military, were cordial.

In the end, the only life Gliniewicz apparently took was his own. On Wednesday, police confirmed that Gliniewicz executed "a carefully staged suicide" to make it to look as if he had been killed in the line of duty. The shooting suicide on September 1 triggered an extensive manhunt for suspects who did not exist.

"Gliniewicz committed the ultimate betrayal to the citizens he served and the entire law enforcement community," said Lake County Major Crimes Task Force commander George Filenko. "The facts of his actions prove he behaved for years in a manner completely contrary to the image he portrayed."

Related: Cop Stages Own Murder After Stealing from Kids Program to Pay for Porn, Mortgage Payments

The revelations Wednesday morning came at the end of a two-month probe, which found that over a seven-year period Gliniewicz, 52, had stolen thousands of dollars from the Fox Lake Police Explorer program, which trained young people who were interested in law enforcement careers. He then used the money for personal purchases, including access to adult websites, travel, mortgage payments, gym memberships, and cash withdrawals, police said.

The morning of his death, the officer, who was a 30-year Fox Lake police veteran, made a radio call to dispatchers to say that he was chasing three male suspects on foot, according to police. Gliniewicz, who was experienced in setting up mock crime scenes, left a staged trail of police equipment, including pepper spray, a baton, and his glasses, to mislead investigators and emergency workers into believing there had been a homicide, Filenko said. The officer then shot himself twice in the chest. He was found at the scene and later died from his injuries.

Filenko did not specify the exact amount stolen, but said that it was in the "five figures." He added that the evidence also "strongly indicates" at least two other people were involved, but declined further comment, citing an ongoing investigation.

On Thursday, an unnamed official told AP that police had begun investigating Gliniewicz's wife, Melodie, who helped her husband run the Fox Lake youth program, and son D.J. Both allegedly received incriminating texts from Gliniewicz before his death.

In one message, Melodie Gliniewicz wrote to her husband that they "need to hide the funds somehow," the official said. In another message, Joseph Gliniewicz writes to his son that he has considered possible options to deal with Marrin, "from planting things to the Volo Bog," a local swamp area.

As more information about the investigation and suicide have come to light, colleagues and other members of the small community of 10,000, who once hailed Gliniewicz as a hero, expressed disbelief and disappointment. Outside the Fox Lake police station, a sign erected for the officer has been defaced, with a giant "L" penned in black ink over the cop's forehead. Meanwhile the words "forgotten" and "lied, stole, disgraced" were also scrawled above and below his face. Another poster described the cop as "G.I. Joke."

"This is my first time as a law enforcement officer, in my career, that I felt ashamed by the acts of another police officer," Filenko said.