(CBS) – An Elmwood Park police sergeant faces criminal charges of swindling an elderly man out of $20,000.
The 2 Investigators reported on the story last week.
On Friday, Sgt. John Wasilenko was arrested and had his first day in court — as a suspect.
He faces three felony charges, including financial exploitation of an elderly person and official misconduct. He’s accused of ripping off 85-year-old Angelo Ditore.
The two met in 2012 when Ditore went to Elmwood Park Police to report $70,000 in cash missing. Wasilenko was on the case, which never was solved.
Two months later, the sergeant tried to cash a $20,000 check from Ditore’s account.
Wasilenko declined comment, but his attorney, Ralph Meczzyk, says his client did nothing wrong.
“We know that this was an outright gift — nothing more and nothing less,” he told reporters.
Meczzyk says Wasilenko is a good Samaritan who, while off-duty, helped the elderly man and that is why he was given the $20,000.
Prosecutors disagree, as does Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris, who has filed a lawsuit against Wasilenko for allegedly exploiting Ditore. Meczzyk says the accusation is false.
This isn’t Wasilenko’s first time in trouble. At the time he met Ditore, he was just coming off being suspended from the police department for other misconduct.
Says Meczzyk: “He’s a dedicated and highly decorated police officer.”
Wasilenko is on administrative leave and will be back in court later this month.