Monday, March 10, 2014
BANGOR – Former Chelsea Selectwoman Carole Swan, who is on trial facing multiple charges of fraud, took a particular interest in a Windsor Road culvert replacement project in 2007, climbing down into a deep crater to the stream bed below.
Staff photo by Betty Adams
Staff file photo
That was the testimony Monday in U.S. District Court of Peter Hanson, who attended a pre-bid meeting at the washed-out road site with three contractors that included Swan's husband, Marshall Swan.
Carole Swan, 55, is accused of falsifying the cost of a culvert for the project, which eventually was awarded to Marshall Swan Construction, and her trial on that charge and 10 other fraud charges is in its sixth day.
Most of Monday's hearing involved that project.
Hanson said he had been asked by Richard Danforth, another selectman, to inspect the work. However, Hanson testified Carole Swan did not give him the work specifications when he asked, so he did not continue.
"I wasn't satisfied that I got very much information on the project," Hanson said.
Hanson also testified he did not notice that Carole Swan had any difficulty scrambling down the caved-in roadbed.
Swan is also accused of defrauding the federal workers' compensation program by claiming to be totally disabled and unable to work while she was working for Marshall Swan Construction, running a harness horse racing business and working for the town of Chelsea.
A later witness Monday, Earl Vannah of Vassalboro, who was a friend of the Swan family and a customer of Marshall Swan Construction, said he saw evidence of Carole Swan's disability in her movements "just the way she carried herself." He said she never carried food trays at social gatherings she hosted, relying instead on younger family members to do that.
Mary Sabins, the former town manager, was the first witness Monday, responding to questions from defense attorney Leonard Sharon.
She testified Friday that she had informally confronted Swan – telling her, "You're not fooling anybody" – over multiple invoices being submitted from Marshall Swan Construction in amounts just less than $10,000.
Projects more than $10,000 had to be put out to competitive bid.
Sabins testified that Marshall Swan responded initially when the sides of the Windsor Road culvert collapsed, cabling the sides to trees.
However, even as the town sought grants to do a permanent fix, the makeshift repair failed in the heavy storm in April 2007, and the culvert pipe itself washed down Togus Stream, collapsing the roadbed. Because of the heavy storm damage, the Windsor Road culvert repair qualified for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Marshall Swan Construction submitted the low bid and won the contract. Swan abstained from the vote.
Marshall Swan Construction billed the town $130,000 for the culvert, which the prosecutor maintains is more than twice the cost of the pipe itself. In all, the project cost $396,980 and was completed in September 2007.
More Chelsea officials are expected to testify when the trial continues Tuesday.
Carole Swan also faces five counts of falsifying federal income tax returns for the years 2006 through 2010 by failing to declare income.
In addition, she faces three charges of extortion under the Hobbs Act for allegedly seeking $20,000 in kickbacks from Frank Monroe Construction of Whitefield for giving him town work.
Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at: