PONTIAC (WWJ/AP) – A former Michigan State Police trooper who allegedly pocketed more than $170,000 in vehicle fees has been sentenced to jail time.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office says 31-year-old Seth Swanson of Royal Oak learned his punishment on Tuesday in Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac.
Swanson in January pleaded guilty as charged to one felony count of embezzlement by a public official and one felony count of uttering and publishing false Secretary of State documents. The sentence includes a year in jail for embezzlement, 30 days in jail for the other charge and probation.
Swanson also must pay restitution, court fees and costs.
Swanson served as a state-certified salvage vehicle inspector. Authorities say Swanson forged Secretary of State documents and allegedly pocketed the $100 fee from 1,701 inspections.
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.
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.
Michigan Salvage Titles
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.
Police 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.
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