Former state trooper charged with embezzlement

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

A former Michigan State Police trooper faces felony charges Wednesday after he allegedly pocketed more than $170,000 in salvage vehicle fees, the state attorney general said.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged Seth Swanson, 31, of Royal Oak with one count of embezzlement by a public official over $50 and one count of uttering and publishing.

Swanson was arraigned Wednesday before 45-B District Court Chief Judge Michelle Appel in Oak Park.

Between August 2014 and December 2015 Swanson, a state-certified salvage vehicle inspector, incorrectly filled out forms that ensure that a vehicle has a clean title, Schuette’s office charged.

Swanson is accused of certifying that he checked the Law Enforcement Information Network to verify 1,701 vehicles when he did not. Instead, he allegedly pocketed a $100 cash fee for each vehicle, which should have been remitted, according to Schuette’s office.

“Police officers are given great trust and responsibility, and for that reason are held to a higher standard,” Schuette said in a statement Wednesday.

“When you break the trust you are given and in the process break the law, there are consequences, no matter who you are or what your profession. I want to thank the Michigan State Police and FBI’s Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force for their hard work on this investigation.”

Swanson was suspended without pay on Feb. 10 and resigned from the Michigan State Police agency on Oct. 24, officials said.

He could not be reached for comment Wednesday. In 2013, he was one of the first responders to a massive pileup on Interstate 75 on the Rouge River Bridge. At the scene, he found three young relatives, including a boy and girl with no pulse in the back seat of a mangled car. One of the young girls had a faint pulse and he revived her, the only one of the three youngsters to survive the crash. Swanson called choosing the young girl to save over the two other children “the hardest decision of my life.”

Swanson waived his preliminary examination Wednesday and was released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond. He has to surrender his concealed-pistol license and passport as a condition of bond.

A next court date had not yet been set.

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