FOX LAKE, Ill. — An Illinois lawmaker is proposing legislation prohibiting pension benefits for a survivor of an official if the beneficiary is guilty of crimes connected to the deceased relative.
The bill introduced last week was inspired by the case of a suburban Chicago police officer who authorities say staged his suicide last year because he feared discovery of his embezzlement of a youth program he oversaw.
Investigators say Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz spent the money on such things as mortgage payments, travel expenses, gym memberships and adult websites.
Melodie Gliniewicz applied for her husband’s pension as she awaits trial on felony charges of conspiracy, money laundering and misusing charitable funds. She has pleaded not guilty and her trial is scheduled for mid-November. Her attorney has said she is entitled to her late husband’s pension benefits.
The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald reported that Melodie Gliniewicz is eligible for up to 75 percent of her husband’s $96,000 salary. The newspaper said the Fox Lake Village Police Pension Board is delaying a decision on whether to grant the pension benefit until after her trial.
“People are so outraged, rightly so,” Republican Rep. David McSweeney, who introduced the bill, told The Associated Press Monday.
The proposed measure would not apply to Gliniewicz, only future cases, out of concern the law could face a court challenge if it’s made retroactive.
“What I’m trying to do with the bill is to make sure that similar situations don’t happen in the future,” McSweeney said.
The earliest the bill could be heard is during the November fall session. Lawmakers considered an identical bill this spring, but it didn’t make it out of the Senate before lawmakers adjourned May 31. That bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Pamela Althoff, also could be considered in November.