BANGOR — About to be sentenced Friday to 87 months in federal prison on 10 charges, Carole J. Swan, former Chelsea selectwoman and once a well-respected community member, started to address the judge.

“I’m desperately sorry for all of this,” Swan said with a stutter her family said she had as a young child. “I never ever thought I would hurt, my family, my community. I-I-I can’t talk. I’m sorry.”

Her voice broke and she sat down, prompting her attorney to ask for a recess some 2½ hours into the hearing in U.S. District Court.

Swan was convicted Sept. 17 of three counts of extortion for using her position as a selectwoman to seek kickbacks from Frank Monroe, who held the contract to plow and sand Chelsea’s roads. Swan was convicted July 27 of two counts of workers’ compensation fraud and five counts of income tax fraud.

Rather than having Swan report to prison right away, U.S. District Chief Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. gave her 60 days before she is required to begin her sentence in a federal prison in Texas.

Swan talked to Woodcock after her mother, her younger son and several friends spoke on her behalf, asking him to be lenient in sentencing her after the prosecutor had requested a sentence of 10 years in prison and $125,000 in fines.

“I am desperately sorry for all my mistakes, desperately sorry for hurting the town I loved,” Swan said when she returned. “I want to go forward. I will pay my restitution. I will pay my fines.”

She told the judge, “I’m sorry to take your time for something so foolish.”

Defense attorney Leonard Sharon said Swan had no tools to deal with the power she was given when she was elected.

“Her stepfather impregnates her and then tells her to lie about it,” Sharon said. He also said Swan was abused by her husband, Marshall, who was sentenced June 2 to 33 months in prison for falsifying five years’ worth of income tax returns and failing to report some $650,000 in income. His sentence was enhanced because Woodcock found that he obstructed justice by hiring two men to damage Monroe’s property after he went to police.

The prosecutor said Swan last told the truth when she was interviewed by deputies who watched her take a kickback she demanded from Monroe.

Since then, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark said, “When her lips are moving, she is lying.”

He said Swan, a selectwoman for almost 20 years in Chelsea, was a pathological liar and “had town managers fired one after the other.”

As Swan was leaving the courthouse surrounded by family and friends, she declined to say anything else except: “Now I’m old news. Find somebody else to write about.”

The case has consumed her family and deeply divided the town of Chelsea for the past several years.

‘THE PUPPETEER’

Sharon said he believed Woodcock gave Swan a fair trial.

“I’m just glad he allowed her to self-report, and I hope when it’s all said and done that the family will come together again and she can become a productive member of society,” he said.

After the hearing, Clark said, “If one thing stood out, it was the court’s finding that she was essentially a pathological liar through the course of this proceeding.”

In arguing for a 10-year prison term for Swan, Clark said she extorted from Monroe on three separate occasions, demanding payments so he could keep his plow contract with the town of Chelsea, where she was de facto road commissioner, and telling him to short the town of sand. It was the latter demand that drove Monroe to the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office in January 2011 and sparked the investigation that ended up in federal court.

“If you didn’t do what Carole Swan told you to do in Chelsea, you paid the price,” Clark said. “She was the puppeteer.”

He said Swan also sought to humiliate Monroe.

“She made sure he was vilified in the press as an extorter and a briber and did everything she could do to destroy his reputation in the community,” he said.

Clark said it was critical for people like Monroe to step up.

He also said that greed drove Swan’s actions, including extortion, her failure to report almost $650,000 income for Marshall Swan Construction in tax years 2006-10 while she was the bookkeeper, and lying on federal workers’ compensation forms by saying, “I do not work. I cannot work. I cannot even clean my house or blow-dry my hair.”

She received about $44,000 tax-free annually from the federal workers’ compensation program for an injury she suffered while working as a rural carrier for the U.S. Postal Service.

Clark said Marshall Swan Construction was a small business that generated $1 million a year but paid no income tax.

“Small-business owners have to know, if they cheat, they will go to jail for a long time,” Clark said.

REPEAT LIES

The judge said he was struck “that all her crimes involve cheating the government.”

“You’ve lied repeatedly in my view on matters big and small during the course of two trials before a jury,” Woodcock said. “Whatever happened to you and whatever you achieved did not give you the right to commit crimes.”

Woodcock said he found Swan had “a striking and unusual combination of self-pity and aggressiveness” and referred to her crying on the witness stand and at Friday’s hearing.

“I watched you look at Frank Monroe with a look that is so steely and so hard and so hateful that if looks could kill, we would not be here today,” he said.

Woodcock also told her, “Call off the dogs on Frank Monroe,” saying that would be the first step toward her recognizing the harm she’s done to the town of Chelsea.

Frank Monroe told the judge that the extortion by Carole Swan and the retaliation against him by her husband tore his family apart.

He asked, “Why didn’t she say, ‘Don’t do that; that’s wrong?’ There was no remorse. I’ve seen no remorse. Two families that I know are destroyed because of this crime.”

Monroe said Swan used her power against him and a number of other people.

“I’ve waited for this opportunity to speak,” Monroe said. “I hope that this court, as bad as it hurts, gives her the most stiff sentence they can.”

Woodcock ordered Swan to pay $25,721.66 restitution to Monroe, an amount that includes the $10,000 the jury concluded Swan extorted from him. The remainder is reimbursement for his time attending meetings with investigators and the prosecutor.

Swan was also fined $125,000 and ordered to pay $75,000 in restitution to the workers’ compensation program.

TOWN DIVIDED

Swan, 56, came to her sentencing hearing carrying a manila envelope and accompanied by more than a dozen family members.

She then stood between her two attorneys as the judge told her the purpose of the hearing and asked several questions to determine her competency.

She answered briefly “yes” and “no.”

Then she told the judge, “I think there’s a mistake” in the financial section of the presentencing report, saying she owns a 2013 vehicle, but owes $26,000 on it and that she has $56,000 in credit card debt, not $1,000.

She read the report easily as the judge went through it page by page, noting her address is 472 Windsor Road in Chelsea, not Augusta.

Swan had previously testified that she had could not read or write well except for numbers

Woodcock told her he concluded she was not directly involved in paying two individuals $200 to slash Frank Monroe’s tires and damage his excavating vehicles just days after the Swans were charged.

“It is my conclusion that I am not holding you as responsible for what (Marshall Swan) did in terms of paying someone to slash his tires to intimidate him,” he said.

Richard Danforth, a Chelsea selectman, told the judge that Swan’s actions divided the rural town, pitting neighbor against neighbor, and friend against friend. He said public officials are expected to abide by a higher code of ethics.

“We are elected to serve the people and not serve ourselves,” Danforth said