July 19, 2013

Jurors watch video clips of former Maine selectwoman

Brief video excerpts from Carole Swan's police interview are played at her trial.

By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal

BANGOR – Carole Swan sits in the interview room of the Kennebec Sheriff's Office, her right elbow resting on a wooden table, her right hand propping her head.

click image to enlarge

Carole Swann

Staff photo by Betty Adams

Two investigators ask about her dealings with Whitefield contractor Frank Monroe, how much money she expected to get from him, when it all started and how much she received in kickbacks from contractors over the years.

"To be honest, I can't remember," she tells them in a soft voice. "Honestly I don't know."

Brief color video clips from the Feb. 3, 2011 interview were played for jurors Thursday at Swan's trial in U.S. District Court.

Swan, 55, a former Chelsea selectwoman, is accused of multiple counts of defrauding the federal government, including failure to declare kickback money on her federal income tax returns and on other government forms.

She also faces charges of Hobbs Act extortion for allegedly extorting or trying to extort $20,000 from Monroe in exchange for giving him town contracts. But those will be the subject of another trial.

In the video clips, Swan is questioned by Detective David Bucknam and then-Sgt. Ryan Reardon.

She tells them Monroe initially gave her $1,000 three or four years ago.

"I didn't ask for it," she says. "He just gave it to me. He brought it into my house in front of my kids, honest to God," she tells them. "I guess it was a way for me to stop fighting with him. That's where it all started."

Swan estimates she received $25,000 to $30,000 over the years. The deputies question her repeatedly about a $10,000 kickback she was expecting from Monroe that day.

At an exchange in which her white truck and Monroe's sand truck are stopped side by side blocking Chapel Street in Augusta, she received a package containing only $450 in $20 bills and singles, made up to resemble $10,000. The exchange was photographed by deputies. Also photographed was Monroe, plucking from Swan's Chelsea mailbox his check from the town of Chelsea for $22,075.

Monroe testified he gave Swan payments of $3,000 and $7,000 in 2010 from his business account; however, in early 2011, she wanted him to overbill the town and kick back $10,000 to her in cash.

Rather than pay Swan a third time, Monroe went to the sheriff. In testimony Wednesday, Monroe said he didn't want to defraud the town by presenting an inflated bill.

"I knew by paying her it's not the right thing to do, but the repercussions would be immediate," Monroe said. "I needed protection from the Swans because I know how aggressive they are."

The relationship between the Swans and Monroe vacillated. Monroe testified that he had a fistfight with Marshall Swan about 15 years ago, but the families had become friends through their children and socialized together until a couple of years ago.

The investigation into then-Selectwoman Swan -- which spread to include her husband and his business -- started in January 2011, resulting in state charges that were later supplanted by federal ones.

Swan faces multiple charges of fraud in federal court, including one count of defrauding a federal program, five counts of falsifying federal income tax returns, and failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars of income for Marshall Swan Construction.

Bucknam testified that Swan was asked about her husband's role in the extortion. "She stated that Marshall was squeaky clean," Bucknam said.

 

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

badams@centralmaine.com

 

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