CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - For the first time, FOX 32 got to look into the Fox Lake Police Explorers clubhouse, where Lt. Joe Gliniewicz conducted meetings and stored hundreds of pieces of military equipment.
That military surplus is now at the center of an investigation by State of Illinois and Fox Lake officials. Most of it was apparently obtained through a federal program called the Law Enforcement Surplus Office (LESO), which makes surplus military equipment available to local law enforcement agencies across the country.
Gliniewicz was in charge of requisitioning equipment through the program for the Fox Lake Police Department. But officials told FOX 32 that it appears he was handing much of that military surplus over to the Police Explorers unit, which he and his wife ran for years. The problem is, federal and state rules make clear the military surplus should only be used for police purposes, and the Police Explorers would not have qualified to receive it.
"We learned that there was evidence through the text messages that he had forged documents, being the chief's signature, to obtain through LESO and other military programs," Fox Lake Interim Police Chief Michael Keller said.
Looking through everything, FOX 32 found helmets, uniforms, gun vests, military boots, sleeping cots, life jackets, backpacks, US Army water bottles, and more.
FOX 32: So much of what we see here right now may have been obtained fraudulently?
"We believe so," Keller responded.
Pictures show that authorities also found flares and airsoft guns that shot plastic BB’s. And there’s visible evidence on the wall that people were firing the guns in the storage room.
"Right now I would say the equipment that we have is excessive for an Explorer post. Some of the items here, I don't see why an Explorer post would need this," said Keller.
Investigators are also looking to see whether Gliniewicz sold any of the equipment he obtained from the program.
"The equipment is used for police departments only and not youth programs. So that's why it's one of our priorities to get this counted, see where it came from and what we need to do from here," said Fox Lake Village Administrator Anne Marrin.
The Explorers clubhouse, which is located in the basement of a Fox Lake community center, is filled with boxes containing hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of military equipment, including bullet proof vests, gun belts, gas masks, ammunition and flares. There are also cots, mattress pads, Tupperware, t-shirts and boots obtained through the program, items which police officials said they would have no use for.
The Village of Fox Lake has hired a private company to identify and inventory all of the materials. That inventory list will be checked against acquisition records provided by the state to see whether all the military surplus has been accounted for.
Investigators say they don't have any evidence yet that Gliniwiecz was selling the military surplus, but they are looking into that possibility. They also told FOX 32 that canines brought into the Explorers Clubhouse by the sheriffs indicated positive for drugs in several areas, but no narcotics were found.