March 2, 2012

Swan, husband, indicted in federal court

Charges include defrauding FEMA, not reporting income

By Betty Adams
Staff Writer

Former Chelsea selectwoman Carole J. Swan faces federal extortion charges, and she and her husband are both accused of working together to defraud the Federal Emergency Management Agency of money and failing to report more than $600,000 in income to the Internal Revenue Service.

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Carole Swan

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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INDICTED: Former Chelsea selectwoman Carole Swan, second from right, is led to the Kennebec County jail in handcuffs after being arrested Feb. 10 by the sheriff's department in Augusta. Swan was accompanied by her husband Marshall Swan, second from left, as well as Detective David Bucknam, far left, and Sheriff Randy Liberty. Both Swans have been indicted by a federal grand jury on fraud charges.

Staff file photo by Andy Molloy

Related headlines


• August 2010, a Kennebec Journal investigation into contracting practices of Carole Swan, chairman of Chelsea Board of Selectmen, finds she may have violated town ethics and contracting rules by erroneously declaring town jobs emergencies and billing them in increments less than $10,000.

• Feb. 10, 2011, Swan is arrested on charges of aggravated forgery, theft and improper compensation for services charges; bail conditions ban her from being at the Town Office.

• June 30, 2011, Swan's 19-year tenure as selectwoman ends after her term expires.

• July 27, 2011, Swan is indicted on the charges.

• Aug. 5, 2011, she pleads not guilty.

• Feb. 29, 2012, Swan is indicted in federal court on 22 charges, including extortion and tax fraud. Her husband, Marshall Swan, is indicted by the same grand jury on 10 counts of tax fraud and defrauding a federal program.

Swan, 53, of Chelsea, was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Portland on 22 separate charges.

Her husband, Marshall Swan, 54, also of Chelsea, a contractor who did a lot of road work for the town, was indicted on 10 separate charges.

In announcing the federal indictments on Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald E. Clark said the case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and the Offices of the Inspector General in the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Postal Service, as well as the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office.

An indictment is not a determination of guilt, but an indication there is enough evidence to proceed with formal charges and a trial.

Carole Swan's federal indictment has long been anticipated. She was indicted in state court last July on charges of aggravated forgery, attempted theft and two counts of improper compensation for services, and her attorney, Leonard Sharon, said afterward that he expected her to be indicted by federal authorities.

On Thursday, Sharon said he had not yet seen the indictment but had been in contact with the federal prosecutor's office to learn about the charges and "the crux of the evidence" against Carole Swan.

"Our investigation of the case has been going on since Carole's arrest last year on the state charges and recently expanded when Don (Clark) made me aware of the extended nature of the investigation," Sharon said. "We will continue to investigate with the intention of defending the matter at trial."

There were previous hints of an investigation into Marshall Swan and his business activities, but the first formal charges against him came in the federal indictment on Thursday. Walter McKee, the attorney representing Marshall Swan, said he was still reviewing the indictment.

"Clearly this is a complicated case that will take a great deal of time to sort out," McKee said.

Marshall Swan is scheduled to be in U.S. District Court in Bangor at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Carole Swan is scheduled to be in Kennebec County Superior Court on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. on the four state charges, to which she has pleaded not guilty.

Alan Kelley, acting district attorney in Kennebec County, said the state charges could be dropped soon. Carole Swan has a hearing in federal court 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13.

"It appears that the federal charges do supersede the state charges, and once Carole Swan has made her appearance in federal court then we will make decision about the dismissal," Kelley said Thursday. "It will certainly be my intention to keep the state charges pending until she's appeared in federal court and bail has been set."

Both Carole Swan and her husband were summoned to court and not arrested on the federal charges.

The federal charges

Here is a detailed look at the charges against the Swans as outlined in the indictment in U.S. District Court:

* Hobbs Act extortion: These counts involve Carole Swan's role as selectwoman "who had decision-making responsibility for awarding and paying for services contracted by Chelsea."

She allegedly demanded kickbacks from Frank Monroe Construction in exchange for town contracts. She is accused of receiving or seeking extortion money on three different dates: $3,000 on Jan. 21, 2010; $7,000 on Dec. 3, 2010, and $10,000 on Feb. 3, 2011.

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