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Indicted ex-Hillsdale cop pretends he still is one to dodge ticket, authorities say

Indicted ex-Hillsdale cop pretends he still is one to dodge ticket, authorities say

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ST. LOUIS • An ex-Hillsdale police lieutenant already facing federal heroin distribution charges is now accused of hiding behind a police badge to avoid a speeding ticket.

Parrish D.  Swanson, 41, of the 100 block of Hereford Avenue in Ferguson, was charged Wednesday with a misdemeanor count of impersonating a police officer.

Normandy Police Officer David Pracht stopped Swanson for speeding April 29, court documents say. Swanson told Pracht he was a Hillsdale cop and showed him a badge. Pracht let Swanson go with just a warning.

Pracht repeated those allegations Wednesday (June 10) in a hearing in U.S. District Court called to decide if Swanson would be held in jail until his federal trial.

Pracht said that he'd stopped Swanson in February, and Swanson flashed both his gold Hillsdale badge and a police ID before being let off with a warning.

On April 29, Swanson was driving a taxi. He showed his drivers license and proof of insurance and flashed a silver badge, Pracht testified. He also said Swanson reminded him that he'd pulled him over just a few months before. 

Pracht said he Googled Swanson's name after the stop because it sounded familiar, and read about the federal indictment on STLtoday.com. He then talked to a fellow officer, who verified with the Hillsdale chief that Swanson was no longer employed there.

Pracht did not investigate further. It wasn't clear how the stop came to the attention of federal authorities.

At the hearing, Swanson denied ever flashing a badge, saying he'd turned in all his police equipment. He said that he apologized for speeding and told Pracht that he was hurrying to see his sick mother. H also reminded Pracht about the previous stop, and said that he "used to be a Hillsdale police officer." Pracht then got "belligerant," Swanson said, criticized Swanson for wasting his time and left.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Nicole Collins said that she believed Swanson had violated the conditions of his bond, and ordered that bond revoked, meaning Swanson will be held until trial.

In March, Swanson and another former Hillsdale officer, Raymond Stephens, 29, of St. Charles, were indicted for conspiracy to distribute heroin and attempting to distribute heroin. The indictments allege Swanson robbed a drug courier March 20 in Hillsdale at the behest of a suspected drug dealer who agreed to pay the officers for their help. Stephens took four ounces of heroin and was paid $900 for the job, and then gave $200 to Swanson, the indictment said. The cases are pending.

Hillsdale Police Chief Herb Simmons said he collected Swanson's two Hillsdale police badges the day after Swanson was indicted. Simmons said he doesn't know what badge Swanson allegedly flashed but said Swanson previously worked for Pagedale, Wellston and Kinloch police departments.

"It could have been one of them badges," Simmons said. "If it was a Hillsdale badge, I'm not aware of it."

Hillsdale is a village of about 1,400 people in north St. Louis County.

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