December 6, 2012

Indicted Chelsea selectwoman claims illiteracy at hearing

Swan, who spent 19 years signing warrants and conducting other town business, is facing federal extortion charges for allegedly accepting kickbacks from a town road contractor.

By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal

(Continued from page 1)

In his affidavit and on the stand, Bucknam described a sting set up so deputies could watch Swan receive cash from Monroe. He said Monroe, who maintained Chelsea's roads, contacted the sheriff's department Jan. 31, 2011, to say Swan asked him "to submit a fictitious bill (to the town) for sand and asked for a $10,000 cash kickback."

"The primary purpose of the interview was to confirm the kickback scheme and determine whether others were involved," Bucknam said in the affidavit.

At deputies' direction, Monroe faxed the bill to the town and later retrieved a check for $22,075 from Swan's mailbox, Bucknam said. Bucknam said he used sheriff's office funds to resemble a stack of $10,000 and gave it to Monroe, who passed it to Swan when she drove up next to his vehicle on Chapel Street in Augusta.

Clark put into evidence still photos of some of these alleged events, as well as a videotape and transcript of the interview. Deputies approached Swan immediately afterward when she stopped in thr parking lot of a dry-cleaning business, Bucknam said.

Lt. Ryan Reardon, of the Kennebec Sheriff's Office, testified he told her in a gruff voice, "I want my money back."

He said Swan responded, "What money?" Then she said Monroe owed that money to her husband. Reardon testified she agreed to go with them to the sheriff's office, which was a block away.

Swan testified she felt she had to agree because they had essentially boxed in her and her vehicle. The detectives said they did not.

The Swans are free on bail with conditions that they not commit any criminal acts and that they stay away from Monroe and his family and from people who might be victims or witnesses in the investigation or prosecution.

Three occasions

Carole Swan is accused of extorting money from Monroe on three occasions in exchange for awarding him town contracts.

Carole Swan faces three counts of Hobbs Act extortion related to dealings with Monroe (the Hobbs Act covers extortion or robbery that affects interstate commerce); five counts of tax fraud and false statements, allegedly for failing to report $600,000 in income to the Internal Revenue Service over a five-year period; fraud involving the Federal Emergency Management Agency for work Marshall Swan did on a Windsor Road culvert project; and four counts of making false statements to gain federal employee compensation.

Marshall Swan faces the same five counts each of tax fraud and false statements and five counts of aiding and abetting fraud on a program receiving federal money. His attorney, Walter McKee, has asked the court for a separate trial for his client and is awaiting a ruling on that.

Ten days ago Kravchuk recommended dismissal of five charges against Carole Swan, all involving allegations she misled bidders on the project by saying a culvert cost $130,000 rather than the actual cost of $58,000.

The contract was awarded to Marshall Swan Construction, a company owned by Carole and Marshall Swan. Kravchuk said the government could seek a superseding indictment essentially rolling all those counts into one.

"The facts and circumstances at hand, from an objective standpoint, call for a single count for one misrepresentation in the context of the project/contract, not a separate count for each payment installment, Kravchuk said.

She also said the five related counts against Marshall Swan should also be amended.

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