BANGOR — The mother of former Chelsea selectwoman Carole Swan testified today that her daughter was a victim of domestic abuse, frequently too disabled from a long-standing work injury to cook for her family or do her own laundry, and had no involvement — except to pay the bills — with a harness horse racing business.

Swan’s mother, Patricia McLaughlin, of Randolph, was the first of seven witnesses called by the defense as Swan’s trial on multiple fraud charges entered its 11th day in U.S. District Court in Bangor. Swan, who spent 19 years as a Chelsea selectwoman, is accused of falsifying federal income tax returns for five years, as well as falsifying claims for federal workers’ compensation and defrauding a federal program that funded the town’s Windsor Road culvert replacement project.

McLaughlin said she frequently found her daughter lying on the couch using ice, so she helped her cook, do laundry, and changed her sheets and helped her remove patches of pain medication.

“Some days she can go up and down, other days she’s dragging her leg,” McLaughlin said.

She testified she was “not a fan” of Swan’s husband, Marshall Swan, because of “the abuses that my daughter has gone through in the years.”

“I’m not saying I dislike him, because I don’t dislike anyone,” McLaughlin said. “Domestic violence is a mother’s worst nightmare. It affects not only their family, but it affects the parents too.”

McLaughlin testified she saw once saw Marshall Swan physically abuse Carole Swan more than 20 years ago.

“It was at my house,” McLaughlin said. “I heard a noise. I got up and went out, and he had her on the porch by the throat. I picked up a Bean boot and started pounding on him.”

She testified the sheriff was called at that time.

At one point, Swan’s defense attorney, Leonard Sharon, asked McLaughlin, “Did Mr. Swan ban you from the home because he accused you of having a lesbian relationship with your daughter?”

McLaughlin responded “yes” before the prosecutor rose quickly to object to the question, and the attorneys went to sidebar. No further reference to that was made.

McLaughlin testified Swan paid the bills for a harness horse racing business operated by her brother, George “Lee” Blodgett, in Ohio, but that Swan did nothing herself with the horses.

“She wouldn’t know anything about a horse other than it has four legs,” McLaughlin said.

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark, read a list of horses — Ball of Confusion, Awesome Wild One, Rascality, Sand Sapphire, Tangys Pocket, Jolly Holly, Sun Dried and A Walk in the Park — who raced under owner Carole Swan in 2006 at the Windsor Fair.

“They were Lee Blodgett’s horses,” McLaughlin said. “He came home to race them.”

McLaughlin also testified it was routine for family members to help organize receipts for Marshall Swan Construction each year so Carole Swan could ready totals for the professional tax preparer.

“It’s difficult because we have to have someone watch out the window so Marshall doesn’t come home and catch me helping her,” she testified.

“I fear what he would do to her, not to me,” McLaughlin said. “Everybody fears him. Even the dog runs when he comes.”

On cross-examination, the prosecutor asked, “Over a 30-year period you saw him once put a hand on her once?”

McLaughlin’s responded, “I’ve seen marks.”

The judge told the jury to disregard that remark and ordered it stricken from the record.

Jurors got a primer on standardbred racing, hearing from Joseph Nelson, of Temple, an owner/trainer, as well as two veterinarians, Timothy Powers and Denise Lynn McNitt, who are involved with harness horses in Maine.

They testified that many owners are hands-off and not actively involved in the day-to-day care and training of the animals.

Flavia Kelley, who was Chelsea town clerk from April 2010 to June 2011, testified Swan told her around Thanksgiving 2010 that Swan was investigating Whitefield contractor Frank Monroe.

Swan is accused of accepting kickbacks from Monroe in exchange for giving him road work contracts in Chelsea. While those charges are not part of this trial, Carole Swan is accused of failing to report $10,000 in payments from Monroe on her income tax return in 2010.

Kelley testified she asked Swan if she intended to run for re-election in June 2011, and Swan responded, “Only if I don’t have everything I need to get Frankie.” She said she understood that Swan “needed to get X number of dollars to be able to bring things to the district attorney’s office.”

Kelley also referred to Swan’s investigation of Doris Reed, a former assistant town manager and tax collector, sentenced to four years in prison in 1997 for embezzling more than $250,000 from excise taxes she collected from 1988-1992. Swan started the investigation into the missing money which resulted in charges against Reed.

Kelley offered a brief look at the political split in rural Chelsea in 2010-2011.

“The town was kind of divided, the Route 9 side of town and the other side of town by the (VA hospital). The Route 9 side had a different strategy of running the town and taxes and the other side of town was a little more laid-back.”

Debra DeGraide, of Vassalboro, said Swan comes to her hair salon to have her hair done twice a week, paying $15 for a blow dry and $75 when she has color done. Swan wrote on claim forms to the federal workers’ compensation program that her disability from her injury while working for the U.S. Postal Service left her unable to blow dry her own hair or do housework.

DeGraide told the prosecutor that she did not want Swan convicted.

“I’d lose a good client,” she said.

A longtime friend of Carole Swan’s, Anita Kirkpatrick, of Whitefield, testified about visiting the Swans’ Chelsea home and seeing the couple together.

“I’ve seen camouflage hunting cameras on the dining room table,” she said.

She also described two more mounted outside the front door of the Swan home.

She also said she’s witnessed Marshall Swan call his wife at least once an hour on the phone.

“He gives her a lot of stern looks and when he does, she gets very quiet,” Kirkpatrick said. “He follows her a lot, she doesn’t go a lot of places alone.”

Earlier today, the prosecution finished presenting its evidence with the testimony of Rodney Giguere, a special agent with the criminal investigation division of Internal Revenue Service.

He testified that about $600,000 in business income for Marshall Swan Construction, was deposited into a non-business account in the name of Carole Swan and her older son, Jacob.

“Any time you have indications business checks are being diverted from established business account, it can be attempt to possibly conceal them,” Giguere said.

After an hour of Giguere’s testimony, Clark, the prosecutor, told the judge the prosecution was done presenting its evidence. More than 100 witnesses were called by the prosecution, including a number of former town officials.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
[email protected]

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