My knowledge of Swain comes largely through media accounts of his exploits. He was the D.C. police officer who drove would-be presidential assassin John W. Hinckley Jr. to police headquarters after the failed attempt on Ronald Reagan’s life in 1981.
And of course there is the dramatic account this week by The Post’s Del Quentin Wilber of Swain’s work for two years as an FBI informant in the probe of taxicab public corruption.
The Swain-assisted investigation resulted in Ted Loza, chief of staff to D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and four taxi industry insiders being sent to prison. Twenty-two other men accused of participating in the bribery scheme pleaded guilty to minor charges and were sentenced to probation.
Swain’s civic actions stand in sharp relief to:
l The 61 D.C. government employees who, as WAMU recently reported, have been fired in the course of an ongoing investigation into workers receiving unemployment checks while employed by the city. Five others resigned, and one was suspended.
l Harry Thomas (D), who resigned his Ward 5 seat on the D.C. Council and pleaded guilty to federal felony theft and tax charges in January. He is to be sentenced next month.
l Mary Ayers-Zander, a former tax examiner for the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue, who was sentenced on March 19 to 30 months in prison on a federal charge of wire fraud over a scheme involving more than $400,000 in fraudulent refunds.
l Joe L. Parrish and Gregory A. Scott, two former inspectors at the D.C. Department of the Environment, who pleaded guilty March 13 to federal charges over a scheme in which they demanded and received $20,000 in bribes for not reporting serious infractions and assessing fines and penalties.
l Aisha Hackley, a former city police sergeant who was sentenced Feb. 3 to 18 months in prison over the theft of $40,005 from an 85-year-old District resident she met while investigating a crime.
And who can forget Harriette Walters, the tax assessment manager who pleaded guilty in 2008 to a scam that netted her and her co-conspirators in the city tax office $48.1 million over 20 years?
Swain put his life on the line for his city. He wore a wire for two years, accepting about $250,000 in payoffs from crooks trying to control the D.C. taxi industry. His was a portrait of integrity and courage in government.
Swain was appointed to the taxi commission by then-Mayor Adrian Fenty. He brooked no foolishness with the industry. He got rid of the zone system that favored some dishonest drivers over unsuspecting passengers.