BANGOR, Maine — In sentencing a former Chelsea selectwoman Friday to more than seven years in prison a federal judge said he had a message for the town and its 2,700 or so residents.
“I hope this gives you a sense of closure and the town is able to move on and become the town you want to be,” U.S. District Judge John Woodcock said after sentencing Carole Swan, 56, of Chelsea to seven years and three months in federal prison on charges of extortion and tax and workers’ compensation fraud.
Accusations that Swan tried to extort $20,000 from Frank Monroe, a Whitefield contractor, so he could get and keep a lucrative plowing contract divided the town, the judge said.
“The most shocking episode of this entire sordid affair is that when he reported your crime, you savaged him,” Woodcock said in sentencing Swan. “You knew in your heart of hearts that he was telling the truth. … Frank Monroe is a local hero because he went to the police. He did what honest and good citizens do.”
Monroe worked with police to record Swan offering him a bribe and testified against her.
In addition to prison time, Woodcock sentenced Swan to three years of supervised release after she completes her prison term. He also ordered her to pay a fine of $125,000 and more than in $106,000 in restitution, including more than $25,000 to Monroe and $4,800 to the town.
Swan remains free on bail. She was ordered to report to prison on Aug. 15.
Woodcock said before imposing the sentence that during his long legal career both on and off the bench he found Swan to be “one of the least credible witnesses I’ve ever seen,” but said he believed she was an abused spouse.
The judge said he agreed with the federal prosecutor’s description of Swan as a “pathological liar,” but believed that she was physically abused by her husband for years.
Swan took the stand in her own defense at both her trials last year.
“I am desperately sorry for all of this. I never, ever thought I would hurt my family and my community,” Swan said haltingly before breaking down into sobs.
Woodcock called a short recess so Swan could compose herself, but the judge found that she had not taken responsibility for her crimes.
“You, Mrs. Swan, are the person who can heal this town and I’m going to ask you to do that,” the judge told Swan as he imposed her sentence.
She faced up to 20 years in federal prison on the extortion convictions. She also faced up to three years in prison on the tax fraud charges and up to five years for workers’ compensation fraud.
Under the federal sentencing guidelines her recommended sentence is between 70 and 87 months in prison, more than twice that of her husband’s sentence of 33 months, Woodcock calculated.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark, who prosecuted the case, recommended Swan be sentenced to 10 years in prison and pay a $125,000 fine. Federal prosecutors rarely seek sentences above the guideline range.
Defense attorney Leonard Sharon of Auburn urged Woodcock to balance the sentence of her husband, Carole Swan’s crimes and the “good person she is” when imposing a sentence. Sharon did not recommend a specific sentence.
He also has asked that his client serve any prison time in a federal prison camp in Danbury, Connecticut, or Alderson, West Virginia. Sharon said after the sentencing that she will most likely be sent to Texas, where the only medical facility for women in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is located, due to her medical conditions.
Swan’s family, including a son, 18-year-old John Swan, a sister, Sharon Nichols, her mother, Patricia McLaughlin, and several friends all mentioned the physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband, Marshall Swan.
Carole Swan wept as family members asked the judge for mercy. Her son asked that his mother not begin serving her sentence until his father is released.
She was found guilty last year by two different juries in separate trials on the extortion and fraud charges. One jury found her guilty in July of five counts of tax fraud from 2006 to 2010 and two counts of lying about her income and work history to receive workers’ compensation benefits in 2008 and 2010.
The same jury found Swan not guilty on two of four counts of workers’ compensation fraud and not guilty of the illegal use of federal funds used to pay for a culvert with money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In September, a second jury found Swan guilty of three counts of extortion in connection with the kickbacks she demanded from Frank Monroe, a Whitefield contractor who plowed and sanded the town’s roads. Swan maintained that she was conducting a sting operation and planned to take the $10,000 in cash she allegedly had received from Monroe to prosecutors.
Both juries rejected Carole Swan’s contention that she was justified in breaking the law because of alleged abuse at the hands of her husband. She attended her husband’s sentencing earlier this month and hugged him before he was handcuffed and removed from the courtroom by U.S. Marshals.
Marshall Swan was sentenced to 33 months in prison and fined $40,000. Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark, who prosecuted both Swans, recommended they each receive sentences at the top of their guideline ranges.
Marshall Swan, 57, of Chelsea was found guilty by a jury in October on five counts of tax fraud for knowingly underreporting the income from his construction business, Marshall Swan Construction, to the IRS between 2006 and 2010.
He was sentenced June 2 and ordered to begin serving his sentence immediately and to undergo a batterers’ program while incarcerated. As of Friday, he had not yet been transferred from Maine to a federal prison, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons’ inmate locator website.
Woodcock also sentenced Marshall Swan to a year of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $40,000 fine. Just before sentencing, Swan paid the $145,000 owed in back taxes.