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Anita Alvarez
Cook County State's Attorney
Communications Department
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 603-3423
saomedia@cookcountyil.gov


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

January 10, 2014

Elmwood Park Police Sergeant Charged With
Swindling $20,000 Check From Elderly Victim


A west suburban police sergeant was charged today with swindling $20,000 from the checking account of an elderly man suffering from dementia who had initially contacted police for help because he thought that he had been burglarized, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced today.

Elmwood Park Police Sergeant John Wasilenko, 35, is charged with felony counts of Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person and Official Misconduct following an investigation by the State’s Attorney’s Professional Standards and Seniors and Persons With Disabilities units and the Elmwood Park Police Department.  Wasilenko turned himself into police this morning and he appeared in court at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building where his bond was set at $10,000. 

According to prosecutors, on Oct. 19, 2012, a uniformed Wasilenko responded to a complaint from the 84-year-old victim who claimed that his apartment had been burglarized of a large sum of cash.  During an interview with Wasilenko and other officers, the victim appeared confused and revealed that he kept large bundles of money hidden throughout his apartment and had several bank accounts at various institutions in the area. 

Wasilenko and fellow officers visited several local banks and informed them that the victim’s home had been burglarized and advised them to deter the victim from withdrawing large amounts of cash in the future.  One of those banks was the First National Bank of Brookfield, where the victim maintained two accounts.

On Dec. 18, 2012, the victim visited the bank and complained about a $20,000 check that cleared his account.  The $20,000 check dated Dec. 4, 2012, was made payable to John Wasilenko and the word “car” was written on the memo line.  The victim stated that he never wrote the check and didn’t give anyone permission to do so.  The victim also maintained that he was not familiar with Wasilenko. 

Further investigation revealed that Wasilenko had deposited the check into his own personal account at TCF Bank on Dec. 5, 2012.  After receiving notification of the potential forgery, TCF authorities immediately froze Wasilenko’s funds.  Wasilenko then contacted a First National Bank employee by phone and claimed to be a friend and caregiver of the victim.  After this conversation, the bank employee became concerned and contacted authorities who launched an investigation into the matter.  Wasilenko told investigating officers that he had befriended the victim, did favors for him, and that the $20,000 was a thank you gift.

“This is an appalling example of the exploitation of a vulnerable senior citizen, made only more shameful by the fact that the crime was committed by a police officer called to help protect this victim,” said State’s Attorney Alvarez. 

“Police officers must be committed to the highest standards of honesty and integrity and it is a sad day for all of us in law enforcement when an officer stoops to this level of conduct.”

Wasilenko’s next court date is January 31st.

The public is reminded that criminal documents contain allegations that are not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  

 

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