Ex-cop charged with threatening officials in Fox Lake officer shooting case

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CHICAGO — Former Chicago police officer Joseph Battaglia of southwest suburban Oak Lawn was charged Sunday with two counts of disorderly conduct for threatening to harm two key officials investigating the death of Fox Lake police officer Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, officials said.

The 54-year-old Battaglia, who is being held in the Lake County Jail after being assigned a $100,000 bond, is accused of calling Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd’s office Friday and threatening Rudd and George Filenko, who heads the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, officials said.

Battaglia described himself as a retired police officer. He was denied a public defender because of his police pension, the judge said.

Battaglia allegedly threatened to harm Rudd and Filenko unless they declare Gliniewicz’s death  a suicide.

According to a press release Sunday morning from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, someone called the coroner’s office at 2 p.m. Friday, blocking the phone number so caller identification would not work. The caller said he was a “retired police officer” and made threats against “all of the Task Force members” and others investigating the Gliniewicz death unless that death was declared a suicide.

After investigating, the Lake County sheriff’s office determined that the call came from Battaglia, who they said is a retired Chicago police officer who lives in the 5600 block of West 103rd Street in Oak Lawn. He was arrested at his home.

According to the release, Battaglia had not been involved at all with the Gliniewicz investigation.

The release went on to say that Battaglia had made calls to other police agencies and to media outlets over the last several days but did not say what those phone calls involved. The sheriff’s office is continuing to investigate and further charges are possible, the release said.

Battaglia, who said he could not afford bond, pleaded with the judge to let him remain free. He has three teenage children who live with his ex-wife, he said.

Judge Veronica O’Malley ordered Battaglia to surrender any firearms and his FOID card, and to have no contact, directly or indirectly, with Lake County officials in the coroner’s office, as well as Filenko. That ban includes social media, she said.

“I am not going anywhere,” Battaglia said.

Bond review is scheduled Tuesday morning. The charges are Class 4 felonies.

“Am I incarcerated until then?” Battaglia asked, adding that he would try to call a friend for money.

Rudd has said that he could not make a determination on the manner of the officer’s death — whether homicide, suicide, accidental or undetermined — until he receives further information from law enforcement officials.

Police officials investigating the case have similarly said that they are awaiting information from the coroner’s office. They also publicly chastised Rudd for sharing details about the case, such as that Gliniewicz was killed by a single “devastating” gunshot wound to his torso.

The coroner would not say if the officer sustained other wounds.

Sunday Rudd declined to comment on the charges filed against Battaglia.

— by Lisa Black, Chicago Tribune reporter.