Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Widow Wants Jewelry from Top Chicago Outfit Cop Returned

Friends of mine: William Hanhardt

Marlene Rolecek wants her stolen jewelry back. It's worth more than $100,000.

The jewelry was not stolen from her. It was stolen from unsuspecting salesmen targeted by a highly sophisticated theft ring, overseen by former Chicago Police chief of detectives William Hanhardt, now in prison.

Dynamic Auto Updating Coupon BannerIn an unusual twist in the Hanhardt case, Rolecek, 75, filed court papers recently asking for 22 pieces of jewelry, including gems and watches, to be returned to her. The federal government seized the jewelry as evidence in 2000. The items include a gold Rolex watch, a three-carat pearl-shaped pendant, and a diamond and ruby cocktail ring, court records show.

Rolecek's husband, Charles Rolecek, a onetime Chicago Police officer, bought the pieces over several years from Hanhardt's right-hand man in the jewelry theft ring, Joseph Basinski, according to court records.

Marlene Rolecek did not return phone messages but said in court papers neither she nor her husband had any idea the jewelry was stolen, so she deserves it back.

Federal prosecutors argue Marlene Rolecek knew full well her husband wasn't buying the baubles at Tiffany's. Prosecutors point to her grand jury testimony in June 2000 as part of the investigation.

Rolecek said she didn't question where the jewelry was coming from or how her husband afforded it.

Charles Rolecek bought jewelry from Basinski for as little as one-fourth its appraised value.

"My husband says mind your own business. It's a gift. It's a gift for you. And that was it. And if I wanted more gifts, I shut my mouth," Rolecek said, according to the grand jury transcript.

Now, it's up to a judge to decide if she gets the jewelry back.

Thanks to NBC5

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