Chief Convicted In Police Equipment Money Laundering Scheme

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A now former Illinois police chief was sentenced to over two years in federal prison Friday for a fraud and money laundering scheme involving a non-profit police helicopter program he ran.

According to the federal attorney’s office for the Central District of Illinois, 56-year-old Timothy J. Swanson, started the nonprofit Illinois Regional Air Support Service in 2005 while he was chief of police in Countryside and continued to run the organization after he took a job with the Kankakee County sheriff’s office in 2009.

Swanson, of Bourbonnais, claimed the organization would be used to utilize U.S. Department of Defense helicopters in order to support local law enforcement activity.

Prosecutors say Swanson lied while soliciting donations of more than $350,000 between 2005 and 2012, and made more than $186,000 in personal purchases using IRASS funds.

Swanson used some of the money to buy his own business, Rotors & Wings, pay off personal credit card debt, and build a new sunroom on his home prosecutors say, while the rest was deposited into a personal money-market account.

Swanson then under-reported the donations to the IRS.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene Miller said part of the scheme included creating a fake invoice, years of lies, and stonewalling and retaliating against those who questioned him. Miller was initially seeking a sentence of at least 46 months.

Swanson pleaded guilty earlier this year to the charges of mail fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and filing false tax returns. He was ordered to pay back $229,128 in restitution as well as $55,140 in back taxes.

He is scheduled to report to federal prison Aug. 11, where he will serve up to 27 months, followed by three years of supervised release.

In court Friday, Countryside’s city administrator, Gail Paul, told the judge that Swanson targeted those who questioned him, leading to one employee’s dismissal and years of headaches and costly fees to an outside law firm to uncover the truth.

The town turned over its findings to federal authorities, who obtained Swanson’s bank and tax records to help uncover the fraud that led to charges.