Shortly before Carole Swan began her 87-month federal prison term, she finished paying all the court-ordered fines and restitution, a total of $232,346.94, an unusually quick payment, according to the prosecutor.
Swan, 56, who spent more than 19 years as a selectwoman in the town of Chelsea, was assessed that amount after her 2013 convictions for extortion, income tax fraud and workers’ compensation fraud.
Swan paid $80,000 by check on July 28. The remainder was paid on Aug. 8, according to records in U.S. District Court. Swan was ordered to self-report to the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, by 2 p.m. on Aug. 15, and the same day the federal government released liens on her property at 472 Windsor Road in Chelsea.
Swan was convicted on 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 on July 27, 2013, of two counts of workers’ compensation fraud and five counts of income tax fraud.
Her release date is listed on the Federal Inmate Locator site as Dec. 6, 2020.
Swan’s husband, Marshall Swan, is serving a 33-month prison term in Devens Federal Medical Center, in Ayer, Massachusetts, for the same income tax fraud counts, covering tax years 2006 to 2010. The Swans filed their tax returns jointly. His scheduled release date is Oct. 22, 2016.
When Marshall Swan was sentenced, he paid the $145,000 in back taxes the couple owed. By July 7, the clerk in federal court had noted that he had paid the entire $40,000 fine and $500 in assessments.
“Carole and Marshall Swan have paid the criminal monetary penalties imposed upon them,” the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark, said Thursday. “It is extremely rare for criminal defendants to satisfy the criminal monetary penalties so quickly.”
Carole Swan’s payment includes a $4,860 restitution for the town of Chelsea’s overpayment for sand. On Thursday, Town Manager Scott Tilton said the town had not yet received the payment.
Monroe, the Whitefield contractor who triggered an investigation that resulted in federal criminal convictions of the Swans, said Thursday he had yet to receive the $25,721.66 the judge ordered for his restitution.
Monroe went to the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office in 2011, complaining that Carole Swan told him to inflate his bill for the winter sand delivery to Chelsea and kick back $10,000 to her. He testified at her trial last September that he previously had paid Swan $3,000 and $7,000 for her renewal of his contracts with Chelsea without going out to bid. At that trial, Swan was convicted of three counts of Hobbs Act Extortion for taking kickbacks as a selectwoman.
A clerk at U.S. District Court said via email the court holds the restitution payment for 30 days, then puts it into the next disbursement cycle. She said the payments should be distributed in September.
Part of the money came from the sale of the Swans’ single-family home on J&J Lane in Chelsea, which sold on Sept. 23, 2013, for $275,000.
The Swans converted into living quarters the second floor of a nearby garage Marshall Swan had used for excavating equipment. Also, at his sentencing hearing June 2, Marshall Swan told the judge he was selling assets and working as much as possible to pay debts and restitution.
“I sold a lot of equipment and trucks when I knew I had tax issues and bill(s) to pay,” Marshall Swan testified, saying he received $225,000 to $250,000 for loaders, an excavator, skid steers and a screener.
“I’m saving the house money to pay my wife’s restitution,” he told the judge. “I don’t have enough to pay her restitution now. I’m going to work as hard as I can until whatever happens.”
Carole Swan was ordered to pay $75,765.28 as restitution to the federal Department of Labor for workers’ compensation payments. She was convicted of two counts of making false statements to obtain federal employee’s compensation. She had signed documents saying she was unable to work because of injuries suffered years earlier when she was a rural carrier for the U.S. Postal Service.
At the time, she worked as bookkeeper for Marshall Swan Construction and was paid for her work as selectwoman and assessor.
Some people in Chelsea continue to wonder whether the Swans had more money than was apparent on the surface.
“Quite frankly, what was discovered during the investigation of the wrongdoings may be only a small part of what they did,” said Selectman Richard Danforth, who served for years on the Board of Selectmen alongside Carole Swan. “I think what we saw was a small part of the Swan enterprise. They must have been sitting on a pile of cash somewhere. They had that money because of what they did.”
Danforth said he was happy to learn that Monroe was to receive restitution.
“If it wasn’t for Frank coming forward, then she never would have been charged or convicted.”
The town’s attorney, Stephen Langsdorf, said the town was used as the vehicle for some of Swan’s criminal acts. In particular, he cited a contract page that investigators found at Carole Swan’s home showing that two other selectwomen had approved a one-year renewal of Monroe’s 2010 snowplow contract. Swan, however, provided Monroe and the town with a copy showing a two-year renewal.
Monroe sued the town in state court about the contract renewal, saying he had bought $60,000 in equipment on that basis of the longer contract renewal and then was stuck with it when it was canceled.
Chelsea voters in April approved a $20,000 settlement in that case.
“We’re going to reopen the claim against Maine Municipal to try to recover the monies and fees that were paid to settle the Monroe case,” Langsdorf said Thursday. Initially, the Maine Municipal Association, the town’s insurer, had denied the claim.
At her June 13 sentencing hearing, Carole Swan promised to pay her fines and restitution and said, “I am desperately sorry for all my mistakes, desperately sorry for hurting the town I loved.”
In a related matter, Thomas Cumler, a Manchester professional investigator who worked with Carole Swan’s defense attorney, withdrew a June 3 complaint he had filed in Augusta District Court saying that Swan had failed to pay him $6,000 for investigative services in connection with her federal charges.
On June 11, Swan responded to the charges, saying Cumler was paid in excess of $10,000 and that he overcharged her. She asked for the complaint to be dismissed, noting that her sentencing was set for June 13, and saying she expected to be in the control of the Federal Bureau of Prisons after that.Later, Cumler withdrew the complaint; and he said Thursday he opted to do that even though he did not receive the payment.
“I decided it was a waste of time,” he said. “It was pretty clear to me the government would get their money first.”
Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at: