Federal judge rules ex-Chelsea selectwoman’s trial to go forward

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 27, 2013, at 2:27 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The trial of a former Chelsea selectwoman and her husband, who are accused of illegally using federal funds and making false statements on their tax returns, is expected to go forward following rulings issued Monday by a federal judge.

Carole Swan, 54, and Marshall Swan, 55, both of Chelsea are scheduled to go on trial April 2 in U.S. District Court in Bangor, according to information available through the electronic case filing.

Her attorney, Leonard Sharon of Auburn, said Wednesday that he would ask that the trial be delayed until summer due to his schedule.

The Swans remain free on personal recognizance bail.

The couple is accused of charging the town $130,000 for a culvert job on Windsor Road that cost only $58,000, according to court documents. The funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency allegedly were paid to Marshall Swan Construction, which is owned by the couple.

In addition to the charges she faces along with her husband, Carole Swan, who was a selectwoman in Chelsea for 19 years, also is charged with lying in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits and extortion.

The couple pleaded not guilty to all charges in March 2012.

The extortion charge stems from Carole Swan’s alleged use of her position as a town leader to extort money from an area construction company by overpaying and getting kickbacks that totaled $20,000. She had the town overpay the construction company — a plowing contractor — and received a kickback from him for $3,000 in January 2010, and another $7,000 in December 2010, according to the indictment. In the third extortion count, she allegedly asked the contractor to inflate his bill for road sand so she could get $10,000.

Carole Swan is scheduled to be tried separately from her husband on the extortion charge after she is tried on the other counts with him.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock affirmed the recommended decision of U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk that Sharon’s motion to suppress statements Carole Swan allegedly made to investigators be denied. Woodcock also upheld Kravchuk’s recommendation that five fraud counts be dismissed against her, which mostly likely means the same counts filed against Marshall Swan would be dismissed.

Kravchuk recommended that federal prosecutors go back to a federal grand jury and seek a superseding indictment that would roll the separate charges — one for each check the Swans allegedly received illegally — into one count.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark declined to say Wednesday whether he would seek a superseding indictment.

It is the practice of the U.S. attorney’s office not to comment on cases until they have been resolved. The deliberations of federal grand juries, including when its members meet, are secret.

Carole Swan’s term as a selectwoman ended June 30, 2011, and she decided not to seek re-election, according to a previously published report.

Carole Swan is the first elected official in Maine to be charged with a federal crime in the last four years, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Former tribal governor Robert L. Newell, 69, of Indian Township is serving a five-year sentence at a federal prison in Canaan, Penn. He was convicted by a jury in November 2008 of 28 counts of conspiracy and misapplication of tribal and federal funds. Newell, who was elected chief head of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township in 2002, is due to be released in October.

If convicted, Carole Swan faces up to 20 years in prison on the extortion charge and up to five years in prison on the charges pertaining to her receipt of workers’ compensation benefits. Both Swans face up to three years behind bars for lying on their tax returns, if convicted. If convicted, each faces fines of up to $250,000 on each count.

The dismissed charges carried a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/02/27/news/augusta/federal-judge-rules-ex-chelsea-selectwomans-trial-to-go-forward/ printed on October 25, 2014