CHELSEA — Police are looking into two potential bail violations by Selectman Carole Swan.

One potential violation was identified in an “Open Letter to Chelsea Residents” written on behalf of Town Clerk Flavia “Cookie” Kelley by Augusta lawyer Cliff Goodall.

The other may have occurred at a special town meeting Thursday, when Swan participated in a debate about whether to spend $50,000 to investigate town finances.

Swan — who resigned her chairmanship Thursday in her first official appearance as selectman since her Feb. 10 arrest — has been free on $25,000 cash bail. She faces four criminal charges accusing her of accepting kickbacks in 2010 from Frank Monroe, a Whitefield contractor who retained his $90,000-per-year plow contract without bidding in 2010.

Swan is accused of aggravated forgery, attempted theft and two counts of improper compensation for services.

Original bail conditions banned Swan from the Town Office and from any contact with Kelley, Monroe, Town Manager Angela Gordon or Selectman Michael Pushard.

On March 15, Justice Robert Murray modified the conditions to say Swan could have contact with those individuals at official selectmen’s meetings. Otherwise, Swan was allowed to be at the Town Office only as often as once every three months to conduct personal business, such as registering a vehicle.

Kennebec Sheriff’s Office Detective David Bucknam, lead investigator in the Swan case, said he read the “Open Letter,” in which Goodall says: “It is our understanding that Carole Swan, a selectman authorized to act on behalf of the town, was willing to sign the Town Warrant but was not asked to do so.”

Goodall’s statement alarmed town attorney Stephen Langsdorf, as it “indicates that contact had been made with Ms. Swan with respect to what her attitude was with respect to signing a town warrant and whether or not she was asked to do so,” Langsdorf said Friday.

“This appears to be a clear violation of her (original) bail conditions, which prohibit her from having any direct or indirect contact with town officials, including the town clerk,” Langsdorf said.

“What (Goodall) said in the letter — that (Swan) was willing to sign the warrant but was never approached — is a concern,” Langsdorf said. “The bail conditions prohibited her from having direct or indirect contact with Kelley, the town manager, and Mike Pushard. And it looks like, in the letter, that (Kelley) knew what (Swan’s) intentions were, and that there has been contact between Cookie and Carole outside the meeting.”

Bucknam also was made aware of tape recordings of Thursday’s special town meeting that purport to show Swan commenting on the subject of an investigation into town finances.

“I asked Detective Bucknam if Carole was allowed to speak at the meeting, due to her bail bond conditions,” said Cindy Bechard-Soiett, a Chelsea resident and member of a group espousing reform of town personnel policies. “We were there to take up the matter of dealing with legal fees and an audit, which are directly reactive of her criminal matters.

“He asked if I had it videoed. … He asked for a copy of the recording, and he would give it to the DA.”

Murray’s bail modification order says: “During the defendant’s attendance at any official noticed meeting of the Chelsea Board of Selectmen, defendant shall refrain from questioning or speaking to any Town of Chelsea officials about the pending criminal matter before this court.”

District Attorney Evert Fowle on Friday refused to confirm or deny an investigation into Swan’s alleged bail violations.

He described what can happen if prosecutors suspect someone has violated bail conditions.

“We can file a misdemeanor charge or we can file a motion to revoke bail and seek to have the person held in jail pending another bail hearing or ultimately until their trial,” he said.

“We are looking into it and will be consulting with the district attorney’s office in regards to this matter,” Bucknam said Friday.

Staff Writer Betty Adams and City Editor Bob Mentzinger contributed to this report.

 

Mechele Cooper — 623-3811, ext. 408

[email protected]

For audio recordings of Chelsea town meetings, including Thursday’s, visit http://www.wix.com/chelseamaine/chelseamaine


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