Disgraced Fox Lake Police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was portrayed as a hero immediately after his staged shooting death, but his personnel records, released by the village Thursday after months of delay, show a much different story: an officer who repeatedly faced complaints that he was drunk in public, deceptive and sexually harassed women.
In a Feb. 1, 2009, letter sent to the village mayor, submitted by anonymous members of the Fox Lake Police Department, officers complained about Gliniewicz making threats and sexually harassing a dispatcher; having to be escorted out of bars by bouncers because he was highly intoxicated; stiffing another bar on a $300 tab; taking his family on vacation to Wisconsin in his squad car; grabbing women’s breasts at department Christmas parties; and being found repeatedly drunk in public and being belligerent with officers who confronted him.
A Fox Lake dispatcher wrote in an April 2003 memo about a comment Gliniewicz made about putting “a round of bullets” in her chest. She said she couldn’t recall the exact comment, nor her response. But she said Gliniewicz then replied, “not if they don’t find the body, and there are a lot of lakes around here.” She said she initially felt threatened, but later realized he was joking.
Records also show that Gliniewicz had attempted elaborate subterfuges to get himself out of trouble in the past.
In 1988, a detective reported Gliniewicz to a supervisor after officers found Gliniewicz passed out behind the wheel of his pickup truck about 1 a.m. The truck was parked on the shoulder with “the engine running full-throttle” as the unconscious and unresponsive Gliniewicz sat with this foot on the gas.
The letter indicates the detective arrived at the scene after officers who responded could not rouse Gliniewicz. The detective had the truck towed and took Gliniewicz home, only to find the next day that Gliniewicz had reported the truck stolen. When he called Gliniewicz’s home, the answering machine message said Gliniewicz was out looking for his truck.
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When questioned by the detective — the same officer who had driven him home the night before — Gliniewicz said he had been drinking at a bar and could not recall what happened to his truck, but that his roommate’s girlfriend had seen the truck parked at his house about 4 a.m.
The new revelations about Gliniewicz came as the Fox Lake village administrator said Thursday that reports that Gliniewicz had explored hiring a hit man to kill her were “quite unbelievable and almost surreal.”
“My concern is my family. It’s quite unbelievable and almost surreal,” Village Administrator Anne Marrin said at a news conference Thursday. Marrin said she did not think her safety was at risk now.
Authorities said Wednesday that Gliniewicz staged his suicide on Sept. 1 to look like a murder. He faced mounting pressure as Marrin audited the finances of a police youth group he led. The rogue officer feared that she would discover that he had been stealing tens of thousands of dollars meant for kids that he spent on porn, a gym membership, his mortgage and vacations.
Shortly after she was hired, Marrin began auditing all village programs. In March, she started a review of the village’s police Explorers program, a youth program for teens interested in law enforcement careers run by Gliniewicz.
In text messages released by the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force on Wednesday, Gliniewicz was clearly distressed that the audit would reveal his embezzlement from the youth group, and he seemed to consider Marrin an enemy. Gliniewicz said he had “MANY SCENARIOS” to get rid of his unsuspecting adversary, from discrediting her by planting evidence to dumping her body in a remote nature area near the Wisconsin and Illinois border.
Fox Lake Village Manager Anne Mirran, accompanied by Lake County sheriff’s Detective Chris Covelli, speaks during a news conference Wednesday in Round Lake Beach, confirming that Fox Lake Police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. | Gilbert R. Boucher II/Daily Herald, via AP
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday that Gliniewicz had explored hiring a hit man to kill her. He had reached out to a high-ranking member of the infamous Outlaw motorcycle gang, authorities said.
Investigators also found cocaine in Gliniewicz’s desk, and given his mentions of planting evidence, speculated that he was considering planting it on Marrin, authorities said.
At the press conference, Marrin said she was unaware of her role as Gliniewicz’s nemesis. The two seldom talked, usually only ahead of village events where the Explorers helped police manage traffic and parking, she said.
“Most of our interactions were very pleasant,” Marrin said.
Marrin said there were numerous questions once she began looking into the Explorers: Gliniewicz could not provide a roster of participants or parental consent forms, and the group seemed not to have a budget. Gliniewicz had direct control over program funds, Marrin said.
“There were a lot of red flags,” she said.
The day before Gliniewicz staged his suicide, Marrin had asked him to complete an inventory of Explorers equipment kept at a village building, a requirement for the village to review its liability insurance. Gliniewicz failed to turn over the list, and in a text message to an unnamed person, he wrote: “She now has demanded a complete inventory of exploder [sic] central and a financial report . . . FML.”
Marrin emailed Gliniewicz and asked for the inventory list again the morning of Sept. 1.
“He said, ‘I will have it to you by noon or 1 o’clock,'” Marrin said.
Shortly before 8 a.m. that morning, Gliniewicz radioed dispatchers to say he was investigating “suspicious activity” at a remote abandoned cement plant and saw three men there. Back-up officers Gliniewicz had requested found him fatally shot.
In the days that followed, hundreds of police joined the search for suspects, and Fox Lake residents hosted fundraisers and mourned the 30-year-veteran officer with prayer vigils and a hero’s funeral. Investigators this week said Gliniewicz committed suicide, staging his death to make it appear he had died in struggle with his fictional assailants.
Voters would have been asked to authorize the City Council to alter the real estate transfer tax and use the proceeds to generate $100 million a year to combat homelessness.