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Former Countryside police chief indicted on fraud charges

Updated: March 12, 2014 7:04PM



The former police chief of west suburban Countryside was indicted Wednesday on federal fraud and money-laundering charges connected to a non-profit helicopter program he ran.

A grand jury in Urbana returned a seven-count indictment charging Timothy J. Swanson, 55, with mail fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and filing false tax returns for his running of the Illinois Regional Air Support Service, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Central District of Illinois.

Swanson, of Bourbonnais, started the nonprofit in 2005 while he was chief of police in Countryside, claiming it would use U.S. Department of Defense helicopters to support law enforcement activity, a statement from prosecutors said.

He continued to run the organization after he took a job with the Kankakee County Sheriff’s office in 2009, authorities claim.

Between 2005 and 2012, Swanson solicited more than $350,000 in donations for IRASS from police departments, corporations and individuals, the statement said.

But the indictment accuses him of making more than $186,000 in personal purchases using the IRASS credit card, and using donations to pay off credit cards and buy another company, Rotors & Wings, LLC.

Swanson allegedly lied to get donations, and under-reported the money to the IRS, the indictment alleges.

Federal authorities also accuse Swanson of using the helicopter for purposes outside the scope of the federal defense program, including having a private contract for traffic control with Chicagoland Speedway, the statement said.

In August 2006, authorities claim, Swanson submitted a fraudulent invoice to the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System requesting federal grant money. As a result, the helicopter service’s bank account received more than $73,000.

In February 2007, Swanson allegedly moved $75,000 from the nonprofit’s account to his private money market account, and used the funds two years later to pay his wife’s Sears card, the indictment claims.

The indictment also accuses Swanson of evading income taxes in 2007 and 2008 by withholding from tax preparers the amount of money he diverted from the nonprofit, the statement said. He is also charged with filing false income tax returns in 2009 and 2010.

Swanson will be arraigned April 2 in federal court in Urbana. Federal authorities are seeking the return of more than $189,000 from the scheme.

The mail fraud and money laundering charges carry a maximum of 20 years in prison if he is convicted, the statement said. The tax evasion charges carry up to five years in prison, and filing false returns carries a penalty up to three years.

Email: lshelton@suntimes.com

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