Former Countryside police chief convicted of fraud gets two years

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The former police chief of west suburban Countryside was sentenced to more than two years in federal prison on Friday for fraud and money laundering in a scheme connected to a non-profit helicopter program he ran.

Timothy J. Swanson, 56, started the nonprofit Illinois Regional Air Support Service 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, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of Illinois.

Swanson, of Bourbonnais, 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 lied while soliciting donations of more than $350,000 in donations for IRASS from police departments, corporations and individuals, prosecutors said.

But he made more than $186,000 in personal purchases using IRASS funds, using the donations to pay off personal credit cards and deposit into a personal money-market account, prosecutors said. He also used the money to buy his own business, Rotors & Wings, and then underreported the donations to the IRS.

Swanson pleaded guilty earlier this year to the charges of mail fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and filing false tax returns, authorities said.

He was ordered to pay back $229,128 in restitution as well as $55,140 in back taxes, and will serve 27 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release, prosecutors said. He is scheduled to report to prison Aug. 11.

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