CHELSEA – A team of FBI forensic computer specialists searched the town office on Thursday and copied information stored on the hard drives of the town’s seven computers as part of an investigation into selectman Carole Swan.

Kennebec County Sheriff’s Detective Dave Bucknam, who is leading the investigation, accompanied the FBI investigators on Thursday. He said authorities decided to copy the hard drives rather than seize the computers. “That way, the town can continue to function.”

Swan, 52, was arrested Feb. 10, charged with soliciting a $10,000 kickback from a town plowing contractor. She is free on bail.

Stephen Langsdorf, the attorney for the town, said the FBI specialists arrived in Maine on Thursday afternoon, but he could not comment on the purpose of their visit.

“When you have forensic computer experts like that, they can tell when documents were changed and when things were deleted,” Langsdorf said.

Also Thursday, Chelsea Selectmen Michael Pushard was at the Town Office early to distribute keys for new locks on the building.

At the urging of residents and the town’s attorney, Pushard changed the locks after Justice Robert Murray amended Swan’s bail order Tuesday to allow Swan to conduct personal business at the Town Office once every three months and to attend “official noticed meetings.”

Swan has not resigned as chair of the Board of Selectmen. Some residents took shifts guarding the Town Office overnight Tuesday to prevent her from entering the building.

Pushard had the locks changed on Wednesday.

“I handed out keys to staff,” Pushard said. “And we’re in the process of changing the panel on the security system so we’ll know who’s coming and going. We want to see if there’s money available to spend on modifying the old system.”

Kennebec County District Attorney Evert Fowle said Thursday the criminal investigation continues.

Swan’s case is the third in recent history in which Chelsea has come under investigation by law enforcement.

Doris Reed, a former assistant town manager and assistant tax collector, was arrested and charged with stealing more than $142,000 in auto excise taxes from the town from 1990 to 1992.

In April 1998, the town’s computers were seized for a child pornography case.

Town Manager Paul Beattie was arrested by federal agents on charges of possessing and receiving child pornography over the Internet.

Beattie committed suicide four months after his arrest, on the day he was to appear in court to enter a plea.