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Elmwood Park cop charged with stealing $20,000 from man with dementia

John Wasilenko | Phocourtesy Cook County Sheriff's Office

John Wasilenko | Photo courtesy Cook County Sheriff's Office

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Updated: January 10, 2014 12:11PM

A west suburban police officer was arrested Friday and charged with forging a $20,000 check from an elderly man with advanced dementia.

Elmwood Park Police Officer John Wasilenko, 39, of Norridge, was taken into custody Friday and charged with senior financial exploitation and official misconduct, according to a statement from the Cook County Sheriff’s office.

In December 2012, an 84-year-old man with advanced dementia contacted Brookfield police claiming he did not write a $20,000 check that was made out to Wasilenko, the sheriff’s office said.

The man’s account was being monitored after he had reported an earlier theft that year at his Elmwood Park home, police said. Wasilenko apparently befriended the man after he was one of the officers responding to the burglaries.

Wasilenko deposited a $20,000 check written to himself from the man’s account, police said.

Wasilenko was placed on administrative leave in December after being named in a Citation to Discover Assets filed Dec. 20 by Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris.

Wasilenko allegedly called the bank employee on Dec. 19, 2012, telling her he was a “friend” and “sort of care giver” for the man, and questioned why his bank account was frozen. He told the woman he had a personal relationship with the man, and often did favors for him, like driving him around to various appointments, the citation said.

When the bank employee told Wasilenko the man had alleged the check was forgery, Wasilenko was heard yelling at the elderly victim saying, “Why did you tell them it was not your signature on the check?” the citation alleged.

Wasilenko admitted his name was on the $20,000 check and that the man gave him the money as a gift, officials said.. When questioned further about whether he thought taking a check from an elderly citizen might be misconstrued, “Sgt. Wasilenko responded by stating he did not think anything was wrong with taking the money,” since he ran errands for him, according to the citation.

Wasilenko joined Elmwood Park Police Department in 2004 and was promoted to sergeant in 2008.

Wasilenko is scheduled to appear in bond court later Friday.

Contributing: Tina Sfondeles

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