CHELSEA — Susan Sargent was overcome with emotion at the news Thursday that former selectwoman Carole Swan had been indicted by a federal grand jury on fraud charges.

Swan and her husband, Marshall Swan, a local contractor, were indicted on charges including extortion and tax fraud.

Sargent, a Chelsea resident and former town manager, said she is thankful that authorities listened to townspeople hurt by the alleged actions of the Swans.

“They betrayed the trust of their neighbors and have done it on so many levels. People are still frightened by them and are afraid of retaliation,” Sargent said through tears on Thursday. “They were good at what they did. They rewarded you if you were kind and took favors from them, and if you didn’t you were retaliated against, and I saw that personally firsthand. I hope the court system won’t go easy on them; I hope they throw the book at them.”

But Jim Brown, a resident of Chelsea and friend of the Swans, said he has been waiting for the legal system to act and is withholding judgment.

“I don’t know what they’ve done, but if she or they are guilty, they’ll do their time and pay their fine,” Brown said. “If they’re not guilty, it will get interesting. But whatever happens, they’re my friends.


“My grandfather had an expression: ‘We don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.’ When I have a friend, he’s a friend. I don’t judge them. That’s up to the courts.”

Linda Leotsakos, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the board wants to learn more about the criminal charges against the Swans.

Stephen Langsdorf, the town’s attorney, said he has reviewed the federal indictment with the district attorney’s office and Chelsea town officials. He said the town is learning for the first time of the allegation that Carole and her husband acted together to defraud the town by overcharging it $72,000 for the installation of a culvert on Windsor Road.

He said selectmen intend to take necessary actions, including placing a lien on the Swans’ Chelsea properties, to recover all that they owe the town. The Swans own at least eight properties in Chelsea, according to town tax records for 2011-12.

The board has scheduled an executive session to discuss legal issues with the town attorney at 4:30 p.m. on Monday at the Town Office.

“The town will provide whatever assistance the prosecutors request to bring the Swans to justice and look forward to putting this ugly chapter in the town’s history behind it,” Langsdorf said.


Rick Danforth, a former Chelsea selectman, said the episode has violated the integrity of honest, dedicated town employees.

“I am angry that she violated the trust I and other Chelsea citizens had placed in her,” Danforth said of Carole Swan. “Given the extent of the allegations, it is clear that the corruption went far beyond Chelsea’s borders and that this went on for a long period of time.”

Former selectman Sharon Morang said her phone kept ringing after the news of the indictment became public on Thursday. She described Swan’s actions as using the town “as her personal financial institution.”

She said town officials were surprised to learn through the indictment that both Swan and her husband allegedly “worked in tandem to take away any semblance of trust in our municipal representatives.”

Jean Beaulieu, 61, Marshall Swan’s sister, who lives in Kissimmee, Fla., and has a home on Windsor Road, said her brother and sister-in-law are getting “exactly what they deserve.”

“Our family has been traumatized by all of this,” Beaulieu said. “No matter where we go people say, ‘I hope you’re not involved in this.’ It’s been very embarrassing for the rest of us and I’m glad to see it coming to a head. We all knew what was going on for a long time, but it was kind of hard to say anything.”


Beaulieu said both she and her older brother, Andy Swan, who lives next door to Marshall and Carole Swan, were very pleased with the federal indictment.

Andy Swan said he hopes his brother and sister-in-law are both convicted on more than one count.

He said he recently circulated a petition around town calling for justice that was sent to the U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty in Portland.

“That’s all I can really hope for,” Andy Swan said. “That they get what they deserve and the citizens of Chelsea get a sense of justice out of this mess.”

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

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