The bizarre story of a local hero turned bad cop has captivated the media. Officer “GI Joe” Gliniewicz of the Fox Lake, Ill., Police Department was secretly leading a life of crime, diverting thousands of dollars from the police department’s youth auxiliary program before staging his suicide to make it look like a murder.

Following his death, fellow officers praised Gliniewicz as a hero who took pride in mentoring kids before, according to police, he was gunned down during a foot chase in September.

But the tale took a shocking turn Wednesday when police announced that the 30-year veteran officer in the Chicago suburb of Fox Lake killed himself after years of criminal activity, including embezzling money through the Explorers youth program.

From The Daily Beast:

Investigators never found the men suspected of killing Lt. “GI Joe” Gliniewicz. Not for lack of effort, not for lack of evidence, and not for enough tips.

The men didn’t exist.

The three vaguely described suspects, “two male white, one male black,” were apparently a product of Gliniewicz’s imagination, ginned up to make himself go out like a hero.

Fox Lake police on Wednesday said Gliniewicz’s death was a “carefully staged suicide.” Gliniewicz had been stealing and laundering thousands of dollars from the police department’s youth auxiliary program for personal purchases, the department said. The purchases included gym memberships, porn websites, and mortgage payments.

Perhaps Gliniewicz believed his alleged theft was in danger of being uncovered. If he was caught, his life as he knew it—gung ho cop, patriotic Army veteran, spectacular father, loving husband—would be over.

“Gliniewicz committed the ultimate betrayal to the citizens he served and the entire law-enforcement community,” said George Filenko, commander of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force. “Personally, this is the first time as a police officer that I’m ashamed by the actions of a member of law enforcement.”

As a leader in the police “explorer” program, Gliniewicz had extensive experience mocking up crime scenes to train aspiring cops, and officials say he used those skills to throw police off the trail of his deception.

His hoax sent local, state, and federal law enforcement down an expensive path, conducting what for months has been officially considered a homicide investigation. Initial estimates pegged the cost for the manhunt in the hours and days following Gliniewicz’s death at about $300,000. (On Wednesday, Filenko couldn’t say what the total cost for the investigation was.)

While the loss of a father and husband has devastated the Gliniewicz family—as well as his fellow officers at the Fox Lake Police Department—the new information provided by authorities may be even more painful to consider. The man known in this small northern Illinois town as “GI Joe” apparently wasn’t what he seemed, and he spent his last day trying to protect that legacy—of a committed cop and patriot, of a loving family man, of an American hero.

The theft might not have been in danger of being exposed when Gliniewicz was called in by the village administrator in August to assist in what has been called a “clean slate review” of the department after the former police chief resigned in the wake of allegations that a drunk had been roughed up in the jail.

Filenko said Wednesday that the still-unnamed officer disciplined in that case was not Gliniewicz, but it is unclear exactly when and how police began looking at the lieutenant for his alleged theft.

Regardless, Gliniewicz apparently thought he was in danger. Among the evidence presented Wednesday were text messages sent between Gliniewicz and two other unnamed individuals who remain under investigation.

Click here to read the rest.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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