Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Activist sentenced to community service

July 18, 2001

The 1997 MSU graduate accused of assaulting a Philadelphia police lieutenant will not be serving any jail time.

Steve Swart was given a misdemeanor and sentenced to community service Monday, said Catyie Abookire, spokeswoman for the Philadelphia district attorney.

“During jury selection, the defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 23 months in jail and immediately paroled with a $146.50 fine,” she said. “He was also ordered to perform 100 hours of community service in Michigan.”

Abookire said if Swart violates parole in any way he will have to return to Philadelphia to stand trial.

Swart was one of about 400 people arrested for protesting at the Republican National Convention last August in the city. The incident was said to have taken place during the protest.

The Philadelphia Police Department declined comment.

Lawrence Krasner, Swart’s lawyer, said despite the plea, Swart never confessed to the assault. He was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment of a person and both a misdemeanor assault and aggravated assault, which is a felony. If convicted, he could have faced up to 20 years in prison.

“I think we are satisfied because it was a rather scary case,” Krasner said.

Krasner also said the district attorney was not fighting to win in light of the video evidence that was submitted.

“It is the only case I have ever done that involved video to prove that the prosecution’s case was (poor),” he said.

The prosecutor, he said, couldn’t prove Swart was grabbed by police because he had punched an officer in a car. Krasner said it was Swart who was attacked, not the officer.

Swart could not be reached for comment.

Mike Price, a friend who donated money to Swart’s case, said the police were in the wrong.

“The way they hit these kids with charges is just horrendous,” he said. “I was an activist in the ’60s, and I was very happy to see these kids active again.”

History senior Michael Krueger made the trip to Philadelphia to support Swart for the trial and was relieved his friend wasn’t going to jail.

Krueger, who was not allowed in the courtroom, said the prosecution offered Swart and his lawyer a deal. The deal was rejected and instead the prosecution accepted Swart doing community service and paying a fine.

“We have been wrestling with this case for almost a year and we’ve spent a lot of time raising money,” he said. “It wasn’t the best but it was better than going through all the stress of a court case.”

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