Yingling Legislation Inspired by Gliniewicz Case Fallout; Would End Survivor Pensions for Felons
03/01/2017GRAYSLAKE, Ill. – An effort by Melodie Gliniewicz, wife of disgraced Fox Lake Lt. Joseph Gliniewicz, to collect on her late husband’s pension prompted state Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake, and Lake County lawmakers to sponsor legislation to ensure a similar case does not happen again.
“The case of Lt. Gliniewicz and his wife was a national embarrassment for the people of Lake County and our state,” said Yingling. “But what happened afterwards with Melodie Gliniewicz trying to collect her husband’s pension felt like a slap on the face to many Lake County taxpayers. It’s common sense that those who help their spouses commit fraud against the taxpayers should not have their retirements funded by the taxpayer. End of story.”
Lt. Joseph Gliniewicz, a 30-year department veteran of the Fox Lake Police Department, was found shot to death in September 2015. While officials initially provided Gliniewicz a hero’s send-off, months of investigation found Gliniewicz covered up his suicide to provide the appearance of a homicide in order to cover up the thousands he stole from a youth policing program. Authorities soon after charged Melodie with a felony for her involvement in her husband's embezzlement. Melodie Gliniewicz has now filed for her husband’s pension –which is derived from her husband’s $96,000 salary at the time of his death. She currently awaits trial.
The Yingling-sponsored House Bill 350 prohibits any person eligible to receive a survivor pension from receiving the pension if they are convicted of any felony relating to the service of the member. For example, if someone were convicted of assisting their police officer husband of embezzling from a police department, they would lose the right to a survivor’s pension.
“We need to have survivor’s pensions for the spouses of our first responders, teachers, and other civil servants,” Yingling continued. “But anyone who violated the public trust in the way that Melodie Gliniewicz did with her husband does not deserve a pension.”
House Bill 350 passed 108-0 last Friday and now heads to the Illinois Senate.