September 2, 2013

Swan's second federal trial starts with jury selection Wednesday

Former Chelsea selectwoman, convicted in July of federal tax and benefits fraud, to be tried on 3 Hobbs Act extortion charges.

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

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Carole Swan is pictured outside U.S. District Court in Bangor in July, during her first federal trial. Jury selection in Swan's trial on three Hobbs Act extortion charges begins with jury selection on Wednesday, with opening arguments set for Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Staff file photo by Betty Adams

Frank Monroe

Contributed photo

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Full coverage: Carole Swan trial

"That's where it all started," she said. She told the deputies she received over $25,000 over the years "for greasing the wheels," including the $10,000 amount she expected to get that day.

On the witness stand, Swan testified that she had lied to the deputies about the payments and did not tell them that she had undertaken an investigation of Monroe.

Woodcock allowed Swan to remain free on bail while she and her attorney prepare for the second trial.

A separate trial on the extortion charges was set after Swan said she wanted to testify in her own defense to tell jurors she was conducting a solo sting to prove that Monroe was shortchanging the town on winter sand. However, she said did not want to testify about the other charges.

That changed, however, and Swan spent a total of two days on the witness stand, testifying about her dealings with Monroe and about her home life. Part of her defense included testimony from her and her sons that she was subjected to domestic abuse by Marshall Swan, her husband of 29 years, and feared him so much she lacked intent to commit fraud.

Prosecutor Clark, in his opening statement at the earlier trial, said he had evidence showing that Swan received $3,000 in her driveway from Monroe around Jan. 25, 2010; an additional $7,000 from him on Dec. 3, 2010, at the Chelsea sand shed, and expected $10,000 from him on Feb. 3, 2011.

Monroe took the stand in July and testified that on the first two occasions he paid Swan with his own money. But when she told him to short the town on sand, bill the town for $20,075, and kick back $10,000 to her, he said he felt he had to go to sheriff's deputies. "I was wrestling with who to go to and not have it come back to bite me," he testified.

Monroe got immunity from prosecution with regard to those payments in return for telling the truth on the stand, he testified.

He allowed the deputies to listen in and record phone calls between him and Swan, and some of those calls were played for jurors.

Swan testified she believed she had to get more than $10,000 from him so she could go to the district attorney's office to get him prosecuted.

Several people testified that Swan told them of her efforts.

Clark, in the brief filed in the current trial, wants testimony about those efforts blocked unless they were made around Jan. 25, 2010, the time she allegedly sought the first bribe of $3,000 from Monroe.

"Given the testimony that was elicited at the first trial of the defendant regarding her duplicity and efforts, after the fact, to tell witnesses of her alleged undercover investigation (that she had no authority to conduct), this court may reasonably conclude that any such statements, even if contemporary, are untrustworthy and therefore unreliable, because the defendant had enough time to fabricate and misrepresent her story."

Clark lists 18 people — many of them former town officials or employees — as potential witnesses to be called by the government. At the previous trial, about 130 potential witnesses were listed and almost all of them testified during the 15 days of trial. Most were related to the tax evasion charges.

Sharon's list of potential witnesses for this trial lists 32 names, and some of those overlap the prosecutor's list.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
badams@centralmaine.com

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