Citing marital privilege, Lake County Circuit Court Judge James Booras ruled that email and text messages between Melodie Gliniewicz, and her late husband, former Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Gliniewicz, could not be used as evidence in her criminal trial on felony charges stemming from the misuse of funds connected to the disbanded Fox Lake Explorer Post 300 bank accounts.
The May 11 status hearing also denied a defense motion to dismiss all the charges on constitutional grounds.
Gliniewicz, 52, was charged January 2016 with nine felony counts relating to the alleged misuse of funds for personal and business use with the program in collusion with her late husband. Nearly 65,000 text and email messages had been recovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and discussions of the funds involving “Individual #1” and “Individual #2” were released, during a Nov. 4, 2015 press conference. Prosecutors have alleged Melodie Gliniewicz is “Individual #1.”
From the bench, Booras said that the marital privilege law allows no exceptions for averred criminal activity between spouses, and the law is meant to preclude one testifying against the other. “Courts, and law, have recognized (previously) that communications between a husband and wife (is) sacred and should be protected,” he said.
Prosecution attorneys extended an argument that the privilege applied to current statements, and not communications already completed. Gliniewicz’s attorney, Donald Morrison, sought to dismiss the charges on grounds that the allegations were vague, and “non-specific,” as to the actual crimes committed. Booras did not dismiss the charges, and elected to continue with testimony.
Morrison’s motion stated, in part, that Melodie Gliniewicz was “not a signatory on any Fox Lake Explorer 300 accounts and had absolutely no control over funds of the explorer program.” He further indicated that her husband was the sole fiduciary agent for the post’s bank accounts, from 2009 through Mar. 2015.
Investigators from the State’s Attorney’s Office uncovered a bank transaction in March 2014 that Melodie Gliniewicz allegedly withdrew $7,000, from one post account into her own account, and 14 days later, deposited a $7,000 check, from her account into a different post bank account. The financial institution, which allowed the transaction, has not been questioned or named.
Morrison indicated that his client would sometimes borrow money, although it was paid back and not a criminal act. Prosecutors have claimed that the couple used the accounts as a “piggy bank” for personal expenses and loans. Bank account records were obtained by the FBI, and State’s Attorney’s Office spokesperson Cynthia Vargas had said they were part of the ongoing investigation. She could not be reached for further comment.
Financial information and records for the post accounts are not in the possession of the Fox Lake administration.
A response to a Freedom of Information Act request, filed in late April, stated, “Separately, the village has not identified any village financial records related to the Fox Lake Explorers program. The Fox Lake Explorers program otherwise operates as a separate and independent 501(c)(3), and the financial records and documents requested pertain to a private business do not pertain to the transaction of public business.”
“The program was under the umbrella of the Boy Scouts, and they were registered as a nonprofit agency,” said Village Administrator Anne Marrin. “The village has no comment on the proceedings, at this time, as we are working with the State’s Attorney’s Office.”
The bulk of the nine indictments facing Melodie Gliniewicz surround three counts of Disbursing Charitable Funds Without Authority and for Personal Benefit (Class 2 Felonies), one count of Disbursing Charitable Funds without Authority and for Personal Benefit (Class 3 felony), one count of Money Laundering (Class 2 felony), and one count of Money Laundering (Class 3 felony).
— Texts, emails between Gliniewicz and wife ruled inadmissable —