The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 29.0°F | A Few Clouds

From University Wire

After a search of his Wilson Hall room turned up more than $5,000 worth of fake $20 bills, an Ohio University freshman is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service for allegedly making and passing counterfeit money.

John J. Swieton, 19, was charged Jan. 7 with carrying a false or altered identification and forgery, according to Athens County Municipal Court records.

The case was brought before Athens Municipal Court Judge Doug Bennett Jan. 8 and then was dismissed when the state showed no interest in it.

The state no longer has jurisdiction and Swieton now could be charged on the federal level, Bennett said.

The Secret Service is investigating the incident but cannot discuss it because it is active, Shawn Young, a Secret Service spokeswoman, said yesterday from Washington, D.C.

Last week Athens Police Department officers investigated complaints filed by the Hocking Valley Bank, 23 S. Court St., Taco Bell, 41 S. Court St., and Red Wagon, a vendor on E. Union Street.

On Jan. 6, Swieton, of Clarendon Hills, Ill., allegedly passed one counterfeit $20 bill at Red Wagon, according to an APD report. The next day he allegedly paid for food at Taco Bell with another counterfeit $20 bill.

"One of the businesses had spotted one of the counterfeit bills being issued and gave a description (of Swieton).

"A uniformed officer located him then," APD Investigator Jeff Gura said.

Through communication with other Uptown businesses, Taco Bell General Manager Carmaletha Byrd said her store received word to watch for counterfeit money being passed.

Two more counterfeit incidents occurred in Athens last week, but neither have been traced to Swieton. Hocking Valley Bank reported counterfeit $20 bills were received in a deposit on Jan. 6 and another counterfeit $20 bill was received at Red Wagon early last week.

Swieton's alleged actions during the Taco Bell transaction lead workers to be suspicions of his money, Byrd said.

"He was obviously nervous and afraid. He asked a lot of questions about the register to see if there was a way they were going to scan it to see if it was fake. Those questions, in general, lead to suspicion," she said.

Matt Billow, a Red Wagon employee, said Swieton used a counterfeit $20 bill to pay for a can of pop.

"He was a little bit nervous and was acting strangely. All he wanted was a pop but all we had left was Vernor's. He hesitated for a while and then decided to take it and threw the money up, grabbed his change and left," Billow said.

Billow said he noticed the bill was fake after he finished the transaction.

"As soon as I finished up with the customer, I unwadded the money and thought that it felt funny. There was one earlier in the week and we knew to be on the lookout for them," he said.

Billow said he then put the bill in an envelope for the police to use for fingerprints.

Swieton, who was reached by telephone, declined to comment.

[The Post, Jan. 12]

Yale lecturer suspected in murder

Yale officials have canceled James Van De Velde's classes this semester, saying the political science lecturer has turned up on a list of New Haven Police suspects in the killing of Suzanne Jovin '99.

Van De Velde was Jovin's senior thesis advisor and saw her the night of her death a mile from campus on Dec. 4, 1998.

More than 40 students were turned away Monday morning when the University canceled both of Van De Velde's spring semester classes. Yale administrators said their decision was prompted by information that the New Haven Police Department's pool of suspects for the killing of Jovin includes the Yale lecturer.

"Under the circumstances, his presence in the classroom could inevitably give rise to speculation about events outside the classroom," said Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead. "That would be a major distraction to students and impair their educational experience."

Yale officials said police plan to continue questioning people on campus about Van De Velde and the homicide and that his involvement in the case would interfere with students' educational experience.

Brodhead emphasized the University presumes Van De Velde's innocence, and the decision to cancel his classes will not affect his chances for tenure. His appointment as lecturer remains active, and he will continue to draw his salary.

Yale officers said they decided over the weekend to cancel the classes and allow Van De Velde to concentrate on research or scholarly projects.

"The decision was communicated [on Sunday] to Mr. Van De Velde," said Yale President Richard Levin.

He added that Van De Velde is welcome to continue his research in the Yale libraries this spring.

Neither Van De Velde nor his lawyer Ira Grudberg could be reached for comment last night. Yale Acting Director of Public Affairs Tom Conroy said he was not aware of the lecturer's whereabouts.

Although news that Van De Velde is a suspect in the case provoked the decision to cancel Van De Velde's classes, Yale officials said they don't wish to imply that Van De Velde was involved in the homicide.

"We want to underscore that we are presuming him to be innocent," said University Secretary Linda Lorimer.

Political science professor Rogers Smith said the decision to cancel the classes might lessen media pressure on the political science department.

"The main effect [of the murder investigation] on the political science department has been the extensive media attention and the presence of investigators," Smith said.

Citing unnamed sources, the New Haven Register named Van De Velde as a subject of police investigation in the Jovin case in mid-December. Van De Velde said publicly he was interviewed twice by police and that he did not kill Jovin.

But the recent media attention and police attention did not sway more than 40 students from shopping his Monday morning "Intelligence Collection and Analysis" course.

Howard Clark '01 picked his way through the sparsely populated WLH classroom. As he scanned the room for a stack of Political Science 181b syllabi, he saw the writing on the blackboard:

"PoliSci 181b canceled for Spring."

"The subject matter was enticing, and I heard he was an exhilarating lecturer," said Clark. "I'm very disappointed that his classes won't be offered."

[Yale Daily News, Jan. 12]