Thursday, April 17, 2014
By Betty Adams firstname.lastname@example.org
BANGOR — The Whitefield contractor who accused former Chelsea Selectwoman Carole Swan of seeking illegal kickbacks from him testified Wednesday that he blames her at least partly for the dissolution of his marriage.
Staff file photo by Betty Adams
"Half the reason that I'm divorced now is because of the problems and harassment that she had caused in my household," Frank Monroe said from the stand in U.S. District Court in Bangor.
Monroe and Melissa Monroe were divorced June 10, according to records in Augusta District Court, and he testified his former wife now lives in Leeds.
Frank Monroe spent 90 minutes on the stand in federal court, finishing testimony from Tuesday and then being cross-examined by Swan's attorney, Leonard Sharon.
Swan, 55, spent 19 years as a selectwoman in Chelsea, and is on trial on charges she extorted or attempted to extort money from Monroe, who did snowplowing and supplied winter sand to the town, on three occasions.
Monroe testified that after giving her $3,000 in January 2010 and then $7,000 in December that year, he balked when she asked for $10,000 in January 2011.
He said he paid her from his own money on the first two occasions, thinking it would halt frequent phone calls in which she complained about the quality of work being done in Chelsea.
After the third request, however, he went first to his pastor and then to the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office after she told him to bill the town for sand that he did not deliver.
"She wasn't just stealing from me," Monroe testified. "She was stealing money from the town. ... I was not going to allow that to happen. I was not going to be part of it."
Sharon asked Monroe whether he had been accused of shorting the town of sand in 1999. Monroe said Swan had accused him of that, but that he had not done anything wrong.
In July, Swan was convicted of two counts of workers' compensation fraud and five counts of falsifying income tax returns.
She now faces three counts of violating the Hobbs Act, which addresses public officials who use their office to extort money and carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and $250,000 in fines.
Another witness on Wednesday, Detective David Bucknam of the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office, testified that Monroe reported in late January 2011 that Swan had asked him to falsify a bill to the town. It was the third time Bucknam has testified in the same courtroom about the same events: his conversations with Monroe; having Monroe record phone calls between himself and Swan; and readying the sting package for Monroe to deliver to Swan.
Bucknam also testified about the 90-minute interview with Swan that took place and was recorded on video Feb. 3, 2011, shortly after she met with Monroe in Augusta, when he handed over that package.
Sharon questioned Bucknam repeatedly about his interview techniques and whether he had investigated Monroe as well. Bucknam said he had not.
Out of the jury's hearing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge John A. Woodcock Jr., told Sharon that if he continued to ask Bucknam about whether warnings had been given to Swan during or prior to the interview, the judge would tell jurors that the officer was not required to apprise her of her rights under Miranda.
The trial continues today in Bangor.
Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at: