|“||I spent 8 years earning the right to call you whatever the hell I want!||„|
|~ Swann berating Ben Stone|
Phillip Swann is the main antagonist of the 1993 Law & Order episode "American Dream". He is a con artist and murderer whom ADA Ben Stone put in prison for murdering his partner-in-crime, and who manipulates the legal system eight years later to get out under false pretenses. He is loosely based on real-life con artist and murderer Joe Hunt.
In 1973, Swann went to a preparatory school called Penton Academy. While there, he conned several of his classmates into giving him money through selling them $10 shares in a fake gold mine and selling them a fake expensive bottle of champagne. He eventually got work as a Wall Street trader and started swindling from his clients through fake bonds.
In 1985, Swann convinced several of his old friends from Penton to invest their money in Swann's pyramid scheme. Swann also got a man named Russell Bobbitt to invest his mother's pension plan with him by promising to make him rich. His investors began to panic when the scheme failed to show returns, and told Swann to invest their money in real estate deals set up by Sidney Cohen. After Swann invested $1 million of his stolen profits with Cohen, he realized Cohen's deals were not valuable, and that Cohen was scamming him. He confronted Cohen, who refused to give the money back and later promised his investors that he would get it back. Swann starting telling everyone that he knew he was going to kill Cohen.
Eventually, Swann shot Cohen once in the head, killing him. Afterwards, Swann knocked Cohen's teeth out, wrapped his body in a rug, and had Bobbitt help him put the body in the trunk of Swann's car and bury it in Patterson, New Jersey. Later, Swann dug up the body and buried it in Roosevelt Island, New York, as part of a plan to be acquitted should he be tried for the murder. Afterwards, Swann bragged about the murder to anyone who would listen, thinking he was untouchable. He was arrested for murder, but he continued to think he was safe because there was no body. Manhattan ADA Ben Stone managed to convict him for murder and Swann was sentenced to life in prison. While imprisoned, Swann got a law degree and started helping inmates in prison, including William Doyle and George Mazlansky, with their legal issues.
In "American Dream"
After the body is discovered, Swann contests his conviction, representing himself against his old nemesis Stone. The Appellate Court ultimately grants Swann a new trial, and Swann arranges Doyle to testify for Stone, knowing he is a convicted perjurer in Sterling County. Then, he has Mazlansky kill Bobbitt and make it look like he left the country. Swann and Stone argue before a judge, forcing Stone to proceed to trial immediately without Bobbitt or his prior testimony, on the grounds that he has a right to cross-examine any witnesses against him.
At trial, Stone calls Chip Rafferty, his former VP, and Doyle to testify that Swann bragged to Rafferty about killing Cohen. However, Swann uses the fact the Doyle is a known perjurer to discredit him. He then takes the stand and testifies that he didn't kill Cohen. On cross-examination, Stone brings up the New Jersey dirt found in his old car, but Swann claims that it is from a country club he used to go to. After Swann and Stone deliver their closing arguments, the jury returns a verdict of not guilty. After his acquittal, Swann throws a victory party before filing a lawsuit against the state, and Stone personally, for $10,000,000.
Swann deposes Stone about his tax returns and implies that his promotion to Executive ADA was because of his case, giving him motive to use perjured testimony. When Stone and the police realize Swann had Bobbitt killed, and Detectives Lennie Briscoe and Mike Logan arrest him for ordering the murder. Swann meets Stone in his office, and Stone tells him that his two accomplices have turned on him. Stone then tells Swann he wants a confession for both murders. Swann refuses, however, and is taken back to prison.