The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Phony Alderman Meets Pastor Who Knows Real One, Arrest Ensues

By Chris Bentley in News on Jul 4, 2012 5:30PM

Leon Swan (police booking photo)
Leon Swan was a crook with aldermanic aspirations. Now he’ll likely spend independence day in jail, after Pastor John Harrell of Faith Community Baptist Church called out the seven-time felon for impersonating 24th Ward Ald. Michael Chandler.

Harrell, it turned out, knew the real Ald. Chandler. He tipped off police after receiving a phone call from Swan Sunday in which the supposed alderman tried to sell him tickets to a play being held as a political fund-raiser. Police hopped in the back of Harrell’s church van, accompanying the pastor to Garfield Park. There Swan, now posing as an alderman’s aide, tried to pass off the fake tickets to Harrell for $20 cash.

Police charged Swan, 52, with falsely impersonating a public employee, as well as felony drug possession for heroin they claim to have found in his shoe.

Some of "Crook County’s" more cynical residents might find a certain irony in this hapless criminal trying on the role of alderman — one hardly has to dig to find graft that recasts this stunt as a sheep stepping into wolf’s clothing. But Pastor Harrell’s vigilance shows it pays (or saves) to have friends in high places, even if you’re on the level.