BANGOR — When contractor Frank Monroe asked Chelsea Selectwoman Carole Swan how she wanted a $10,000 kickback, she was explicit.

“Cash, big bills,” Swan replied.

The exchange was one of 10 recorded phone calls jurors heard at Swan’s trial on extortion charges in U.S. District Court today.

In the Jan. 31, 2011, call about the kickback that was related to a bill for sand, the two discussed how Monroe was to submit the inflated bill to the town and how he was to pick up the check.

Monroe testified Swan demanded that he submit a bill for sand that he had not delivered and kick back $10,000 to her.

He told the prosecutor that she voiced a concern that the call might be recorded — which it was.

“She knew that this was illegal,” he said.

Monroe said he previously paid her $3,000 and $7,000 out of his own money, but did not want to bilk the town.

In the tape, Monroe wonders aloud about cashing such a large check: “Do you think they’re going to give me a hard time?”

Swan responds, “I do this all the time. I built Jake’s house that way.”

Jacob Swan, her older son, lives in a house along the same lane as his parents’ home, which is under contract to be sold, according to multiple listing information.

In opening remarks today, U.S. Attorney Donald Clark labeled Swan “a corrupt elected public official” who “misused her office to attempt to extort $20,000 from a local construction company that plowed and sanded Chelsea’s roads.”

The federal prosecutor said Swan substituted pages in a contract — without the knowledge of the other two selectmen — converting a one-year extension of a snowplowing contract to two years. The town contract was with Frank Monroe Construction of Whitefield.

Swan is on trial for the second time, following her July convictions on tax and workers’ compensation charges. At that trial, she claimed that she was abused by her husband Marshall Swan, which led her to commit the crimes. This time, she faces federal extortion charges.

In a trial brief filed by Swan defense attorney Leonard Sharon, he states that the “defense will ask the jury to consider that the domestic abuse created in Carole a propensity to tell male authority figures what she believed they wanted to hear, and to accept personal blame for events when accused of wrongdoing even when she was without fault.”

Sharon said that explains why she failed to tell Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office deputies during a 90-minute videotaped interview about her own solo investigation of Monroe.

The prosecutor, Clark, in court filings, sought to block testimony about domestic abuse.

“When specifically asked about her relationship with her husband during her confession (to deputies), she said that she would be safe, did not need an alternative place to live, and that during a telephone call taken during the course of the interview, her husband told her he loved her.”

Clark also said, “If the defendant testifies, the government should be permitted to impeach her by evidence of her criminal convictions for tax and workers’ compensation fraud.”

During the July trial, Swan testified she was conducting an investigation of Monroe, claiming the town’s plow contractor was shorting the town of sand and using town sand for his private plowing business, confiding this only to her husband and a couple of other townspeople.

To further this investigation, she said she got friendly with Monroe and even had his wife over to the house.

“I made him believe I was like superwoman and I could control everything over (in Chelsea),” she said. She said she told him she managed it so her husband could get all kinds of work, and she would do the same for Monroe.

“The only way I could get him at his game was to get on his level,” Swan said.

In a written ruling issued Monday, Chief Justice John A. Woodcock Jr. said he would allow Swan’s testimony that domestic abuse led to her actions.

However, Woodcock also granted the prosecutor’s request to tell the jury of Swan’s July 26 convictions on six criminal charges “for impeachment purposes if the defendant testifies.”

Swan, 55, who spent 19 years on the town’s Board of Selectmen, most recently as chairman, was convicted in July of tax and workers’ compensation charges and cleared of federal program fraud, but the three extortion charges were separated out prior to that trial.

This morning, a new jury of seven men and seven women heard instructions from Woodcock about the extortion charges and about Swan’s pleading not guilty to them.

The trial is expected to proceed as it did in July, with testimony running 8:30 a.m.- 2:30 p.m. each day with at least two 15-minute breaks for jurors.

There were a few other differences as well.

Instead of a summer dress and sweater that was her usual attire in July, Swan wore a white turtleneck under a purple, long-sleeved jacket, a short black skirt and black tights. She spoke quietly to Sharon and to his cocounsel attorney CaleighBAdams 9/10/13 cq Milton during parts of Clark’s opening statement and when some of the witnesses testified.

At the prosecution table, Clark was joined by FBI Special Agent Mark Miller. At Swan’s previous trial, Rodney Giguere, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service, sat with the prosecutor.

Monroe himself was the third witness called today, and within the first four minutes of taking the stand, he testified that Swan was the only public official to ask him for a kickback or bribe and that she did it three times.

Monroe testified that Swan demanded $3,000 from him, saying he had a particularly lucrative contract with Chelsea, which was paying him $9.50 a yard for sand at the same time his contract with Windsor limited him to charging that town only $6 to $6.50 a yard.

Monroe said he and his wife discussed Swan’s request. “We were shocked at first,” he said, but chose to pay in February 2010. “I know how miserable she can be and how much harassment we could receive.”

He testified he didn’t disclose Swan’s demand for $7,000 to his wife until after he paid it.

He also testified that she negotiated a two-year extension to his plowing contract — at his request — and brought him only the last two contract pages that contained the payment schedule and the selectmen’s signatures.

“Carole was the one that ran the show,” he said. “She was the one that handled it all.”

Monroe is to return to the witness stand again today and has yet to be cross-examined by the defense attorney.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
[email protected]