July 26, 2013

Swan in-law paints different picture of abuse

Swan says she remembers little about Windsor Road culvert bidding

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

BANGOR -- Jurors got a different picture of former Chelsea selectwoman Carole Swan on Thursday as her trial on federal fraud charges neared an end.

Instead of a weak, battered woman baffled by government forms and beaten by her husband when she failed to do his bidding, Swan was described by her sister-in-law as sometimes angry, self-assured and highly competitive.

Roberta Jean Rood, the older sister of Marshall Swan, Carole Swan’s husband, was a rebuttal witness called by Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark. Swan faces five counts of tax fraud, four counts of false statements with regard to workers’ compensation benefits, and one count of fraud on a federal program in U.S. District Court.

The trial is to resume at 10 a.m. Friday.

Rood had lived in Chelsea in the late 1980s and then returned to stay at a Windsor Road home near the Swans in 2010-2011, when her bedroom window faced their house.

“I could hear them fighting outside,” Rood testified. “I heard a lot of talking and a lot of screaming and calling him names.” She reluctantly repeated them after the prosecutor asked twice.  

She said Carole called Marshall “a cheap s-o-b” and another obscene name.

Earlier Thursday, Carole Swan herself testified that she and her husband fought constantly, and she would yell at him up until a few years ago.

“I smashed his windshield that I paid for when he took someone else out when I was 18,” she said. She stopped fighting back, she said, deciding, “It’s not worth it.”

Rood said she and her late husband used to go out together with the Swans, and Marshall would be polite, opening the door for his wife. She said both Swans drank maybe one or two drinks and sometimes had no alcohol.

“For the most part, they seemed very happy,” Rood said.

She also said she had heard Carole threaten Marshall. “She said she would kick him out of the house and he would walk down the street with nothing but his underwear.”

Rood testified that Carole controlled the money.  

“Carole told me herself that the equipment they owned for the business was in her name,” she said. “Whenever we went out to dinner, the money always came out of her purse.” Rood said she saw Carole hand the cash under the table to Marshall so he could pay.

Rood talked of competition between her and Carole Swan.

“She bought many diamonds, bracelets, earrings, rings, necklaces, brand new cars,” Rood said.

Swan several times had her furniture reupholstered and the interior of her home repainted, and she hired someone to do the garden and wash the vehicles, Rood said.

Rood said when her dying husband bought her a 2.5-carat diamond solitaire, Swan bought herself a 3-carat solitaire.

When Rood bought a five-diamond channel ring, “she went and bought the same exact one,” Rood said.

She said Carole Swan always bought new white GMC Denalis. “She didn’t want people in Chelsea to know how often they were trading in vehicles.”

When the prosecutor asked her to describe the Swans’ lifestyle, she told him, “They lived very, very well -- better than I did, and I won the lottery.”

Rood still was being questioned by defense attorney Leonard Sharon when the trial ended for the day on Thursday.

Can’t remember details

Carole Swan started the day being cross-examined by the prosecutor, then answered more questions from both Sharon and Clark.

Swan testified she could not remember specifics about the bid opening for the 2007 Windsor Road culvert project awarded to her husband.

“I'm sorry, sir. I take a lot of medication,” Swan told the Clark. “I’m sorry, sir. My children tell me I repeat myself all the time. I remember some things.”

(Continued on page 2)

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