PONTIAC, MI – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that former Michigan State Police Trooper Seth Swanson, 31-years-old, of Royal Oak, pleaded guilty as charged to one felony count of Embezzlement by a Public Official and one felony count of Utter and Publishing False Secretary of State documents allowing issuance of good motor vehicle titles.
The case arose from a joint investigation by the Michigan State Police, the FBI Detroit-Area Public Corruption Task Force, and the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit.
Swanson plead guilty on Tuesday January 18, 2017 before Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Potts.
Swanson is scheduled to be sentenced on February 28, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. before Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Potts.
“Police officers are entrusted with upholding the law so it is especially disappointing when they are the ones that break it,” said Schuette. “This former is officer is now seeing the consequences of his illegal actions. I want to thank the Michigan State Police and FBI’s Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force for their hard work on this investigation.”
Between August 2014 and December 2015, Swanson falsified Michigan Secretary of State forms required for clean title and personally pocketed the cash fee instead of paying it over to the Michigan State Police. Michigan law earmarks a portion of this fee to fight auto thefts. Detecting stolen autos and auto parts is one of the purposes of the inspections that then-Trooper Swanson was responsible to do.
Swanson conducted 1,701 salvage vehicle inspections over a span of a year and a half, pocketing over $170,000.00, while forging the necessary Secretary of State document for each. The form, once completed and signed by a certified police officer, permitted the holder to obtain a good and valid State of Michigan motor vehicle title for the subject vehicle.
The former State Trooper had been a state-certified salvage vehicle inspector since 2011
Swanson used the fees he pocketed for personal purposes, including paying personal credit card debt, vacations, paying for multiple plastic surgeries, and for home improvements for himself and family.
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.