LANSING, MI – A former Michigan State Police (MSP) Trooper, Seth Swanson, 31-years-old, of Royal Oak, was charged with one felony count of Embezzlement by a Public Official over $50.00, and one felony count of Uttering and Publishing, following an investigation into his conducting improper salvage vehicle inspections.
Swanson allegedly pocketed $170,100 in vehicle fees and forged Secretary of State documentation concerning the inspections that insure a salvage vehicle has a clean title. Swanson falsely certified he checked the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) to verify the Vehicle Information Numbers, or VINs, on the cars were not reported as stolen.
“Police officers are given great trust and responsibility, and for that reason are held to a higher standard,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. “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 arraigned on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 before Chief Judge Michelle Appel of the 45-B District Court in Oak Park. Swanson was released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond. As a condition of bond, he also surrendered his CPL and passport. Swanson has waived his preliminary exam. His next court date is not yet set.
Charges were filed against Swanson after an investigation revealed he allegedly falsified salvage vehicle inspections.
Salvage vehicle inspectors are instructed to collect a $100 cash fee that is remitted to the State of Michigan.
It is alleged that between August 2014 and December 2015, Swanson incorrectly filled out the necessary forms that ensure a clean title and pocketed the $100 cash fee from 1,701 vehicle inspections, totaling $170,100. Swanson had been a state-certified salvage vehicle inspector since 2011.
As a result of the investigation, Swanson was suspended without pay effective Feb. 10, 2016. He then resigned from the state police on Oct. 24, 2016.
A salvage title is issued for a vehicle that has become a “distressed vehicle.” A vehicle with a salvage title cannot be plated or used on public roads until it is recertified by a specially trained police officer and retitled.
The MSP and the Secretary of State will work together to ensure all vehicles involved in this case have a proper salvage vehicle inspection. This may involve directly contacting the registered owners of vehicles improperly inspected to arrange for a new inspection. The process of identifying affected vehicles is ongoing.