September 17, 2013

Swan testifies as Maine extortion trial heads to jury

Former Selectwoman Carole Swan claims she was investigating Whitefield contractor Frank Monroe.

By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal

BANGOR – The extortion trial of former Chelsea Selectwoman Carole Swan will be in the jury's hands Tuesday, a judge said as testimony ended Monday.

click image to enlarge

Carole Swann

Staff file photo by Betty Adams

Swan took the stand on the fifth day of her trial in U.S. District Court in Bangor. At one point, she offered to go to her truck to get $10,000 in kickback money paid to her more than two years ago by Whitefield contractor Frank Monroe.

Earlier, the judge threatened to hold her in contempt of court for mentioning past acquittals against the judge's demands.

Swan testified she had been investigating Monroe for defrauding the town of Chelsea by billing it for sand he didn't deliver when she was caught in a sting arranged by Kennebec County Sheriff's Office deputies working with Monroe.

She didn't tell deputies that, however, in a 90-minute interview on Feb. 3, 2011, after they photographed her in her truck on an Augusta street getting a sting package from Monroe – not the $10,000 she was expecting.

Monroe had gone to authorities several days earlier saying Swan, then head of the town's selectmen, had sought bribes from him three times. He paid her $3,000 and $7,000 in 2010 but balked at bilking the town when she demanded a $10,000 payment in late January 2011.

On Monday, Swan testified she had the earlier $10,000 in cash in an envelope locked in her pickup truck outside the courthouse. "Do you want me to go out and get it?" she asked.

No one took her up on that offer, and Swan testified that she had the kickback money in her handbag when deputies interviewed her. However, they didn't arrest her or search her truck then.

She testified that she intended to take that $10,000, plus the $10,000 she expected to get from Monroe, to the town's attorney.

Swan was convicted July 26 of two counts of federal workers' compensation fraud and five counts of falsifying income tax returns by failing to declare about $650,000 in income from Marshall Swan Construction, the earth-moving company owned by her and her husband.

She is charged with three counts of violating the federal Hobbs Act, which addresses public officials using their office to extort money. Each count carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and $250,000 in fines.

 

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

badams@centralmaine.com

 

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