The ongoing criminal felony case of Melodie Gliniewicz, widow of the late Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Gliniewicz, has been remanded back to the 19h Judicial Circuit Court in Lake County for the presiding judge, James Booras, to reconsider his original decision to disallow the use of texts and email messages between the couple, as evidence, citing spousal privilege.
The May 2017 ruling prompted prosecutors to immediately petition the 2nd District Appellate Court in Elgin for redress on the Booras determination, and allow the communications’ use.
The appellate court made its ruling May 10, nearly one year later.
Robert Mangan, 2nd District Appellate Circuit Clerk, said through an email, “We have received nothing yet, as of May 25.”
A status hearing was convened in Booras’ courtroom May 15 to set the matter of reconsideration for a formal hearing date of May 31. Booras has presided over the entire case since charges were filed in 2016. Felony and misdemeanor counts involve the misuse and appropriation of nonprofit funds attached to the now-disbanded Fox Lake Explorer Post 300, by the couple for personal expenses and use.
“The 2nd District Appellate Court remanded the case to the trial court for the limited purpose of the court’s consideration of the request by the state to reopen proofs in the defendant’s limine, which is to exclude communications between the defendant and the late Lt. (Charles) Gliniewicz,” said Donald Morrison, Melodie Gliniewicz’s defense attorney. “The state filed the motion to reopen proofs in the trial court, and they are seeking to admit a signed consent by the defendant to search her phone, dated Oct. 8, 2015.”
Spousal privilege prevents one spouse from testifying against another, applied as state law by Booras to the texts and email messages between the couple. Prosecutors argue that the laws are not applicable, when one spouse is not being approached to testify against the other, as with the current criminal proceedings pursued against Melodie Gliniewicz. The lieutenant is also deceased.
“The concept of ‘limine’ is best explained as a Latin word meaning ‘on the threshold,’ and is used in a motion that is discussed outside the presence of a jury to request that certain testimony be excluded from a particular proceeding,” said Matthew Stanton, an adjunct professor with the Chicago Kent College of Law. “The motion involves evidence that could eventually not be heard by a jury, and precludes their presence.”
The charges came to light after Lt. Gliniewicz staged his own suicide to appear as a carefully staged homicide, according to investigators, on Sept. 1, 2015. At a press conference two months later, it was implied that the action was to cover up financial malfeasance with the explorer accounts. Nearly 65,000 text and email messages were recovered from personal and official accounts, many pertaining to the illegal use of funds between Gliniewicz and two individuals, one investigators later alleged was his widow.
In a related matter, a mid-December 2017 filing request to reverse the Fox Lake Police Pension Board decision on releasing Lt. Gliniewicz’s pension to his widow, Melodie, as benefits, is now set for June 19. The board had issued an April 2016 decision to withhold those payments until the criminal trial has concluded. The Village of Fox Lake, which pays into the pension fund, was allowed to argue its case against the widow’s benefits in a previous hearing.
Fred Loffredo, president of the Fox Lake Police Pension Board, said, “At this point, there’s really nothing to report. We are going back and forth with our various hearings, where the village will bring up a counterpoint, and the Gliniewicz attorney will bring up another counterpoint … and we will postpone any judgment until they get those things resolved. We have a June 19 hearing, but that will be going through the steps, and seeing what counterpoints are presented at that time, and presumably, have a hearing after that.”
The annual pension amount, when and if released, would equal approximately 50-75 percent of the former police lieutenant’s final salary, which is estimated at a yearly sum around $45,000. The benefits are eligible since the lieutenant was never indicted, charged, arrested, or convicted of any wrongdoing. The reduced percentage was because of the suicide, although he was on active duty.
The May 31 hearing is a continuation for Booras, whom has presided over the case from its first stages in 2016.
—Gliniewicz criminal trial remanded back to Circuit Court–