The Fox Lake, Il., community is reeling from the revelation that 52-year-old former police officer Charles Gliniewicz allegedly stole from the Explorers program for youth for years and then, before any fraud could come to light, committed suicide in a manner staged to look like a murder, says the Chicago Tribune. Authorities say he embezzled an amount in the five figures, using the money for mortgage payments, travel and adult websites. Experts say this type of youth program is particularly vulnerable to embezzlement and corruption due to lack of oversight and misplaced trust. The Fox Lake case is one of several across the nation where trusted volunteers pilfered money from athletic programs, school clubs and other similar youth groups.
The founder of a youth football league in suburban Gilberts, Il., last month confessed to taking $2,250 from the organization and, as part of an agreement with prosecutors, must pay restitution, apologize and perform 100 hours of community service. The ex-president of a Wheaton high school booster club last year was sentenced to 75 days in jail for a theft of almost $11,000 from the club’s coffers. The former treasurer of a band booster club in another high school, charged with stealing $26,000 from the club, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft in April. A former suburban police chief in the Seattle area was charged in August with stealing money from the local police Explorer program. Eleanor Frankel, editor of Athletic Management, a trade magazine for athletic directors, started seeing more headlines about booster club volunteers caught stealing money in the last decade, which she attributed to the economic downturn.