BANGOR — The Whitefield contractor who accused former Chelsea Selectwoman Carole Swan of seeking illegal kickbacks from him testified Wednesday that he blames her at least partly for the dissolution of his marriage.

“Half the reason that I’m divorced now is because of the problems and harassment that she had caused in my household,” Frank Monroe said from the stand in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

Monroe and Melissa Monroe were divorced June 10, according to records in Augusta District Court, and he testified his former wife now lives in Leeds.

Frank Monroe spent 90 minutes on the stand in federal court, finishing testimony from Tuesday and then being cross-examined by Swan’s attorney, Leonard Sharon.

Swan, 55, spent 19 years as a selectman in Chelsea, and is on trial on charges she extorted or attempted to extort money from Monroe, who did snowplowing and supplied winter sand to the town, on three occasions.

Monroe testified that after giving her $3,000 in January 2010 and then $7,000 in December that year, he balked when she asked for $10,000 in January 2011.

He said he paid her from his own money on the first two occasions, thinking it would halt frequent phone calls in which she complained about the quality of work being done in Chelsea.

After the third request, however, he went first to his pastor and then to the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office after she told him to bill the town for sand that he did not deliver.

“She wasn’t just stealing from me,” Monroe testified. “She was stealing money from the town. … I was not going to allow that to happen. I was not going to be part of it.”

Sharon asked Monroe whether he had been accused of shorting the town of sand in 1999. Monroe said Swan had accused him of that, but that he had not done anything wrong.

In July, Swan was convicted of two counts of workers’ compensation fraud and five counts of falsifying income tax returns by failing to declare about $650,000 in income from Marshall Swan Construction, the earth-moving company owned by her and her husband. Also, a jury found that she had failed to pay $140,000 in income and self-employment taxes.

She now faces three counts of violating the Hobbs Act, which addresses public officials who use their office to extort money and carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and $250,000 in fines.

Another witness on Wednesday, Detective David Bucknam, of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, testified that Monroe reported in late January 2011 that Swan had asked him to falsify a bill to the town. It was the third time Bucknam has testified in the same courtroom about the same events: talking to Monroe, having him record phone calls between him and Swan, and readying the sting package for Monroe to deliver to Swan.

Bucknam also testified about the 90-minute interview with Swan that took place and was recorded on video Feb. 3, 2011, shortly after she met with Monroe on Chapel Street in Augusta, when he handed over that package.

Jurors watched short clips from that interview and followed along by reading transcripts. At times, Swan’s voice was so quiet it was difficult to discern her words.

Swan says Monroe initially gave her $1,000 for no reason at all, and later gave her $6,000.

She says half the $10,000 she was to get from Monroe on Feb. 3, 2011, was to be in the form of a check for work her husband, Marshall Swan, had done for Monroe. The other half was to be in cash.

Sharon questioned Bucknam repeatedly about his interview techniques and whether he had investigated Monroe as well. Bucknam said he had not.

Out of the jury’s hearing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge John A. Woodcock Jr., told Sharon that if he continued to ask Bucknam about whether warnings had been given to Swan during or prior to the interview, the judge would tell jurors that the officer was not required to apprise her of her rights under Miranda.

Sharon Morang, a selectwoman from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2010, testified that she had approved only a one-year extension of Monroe’s plowing contract with the town. She said she crossed out the second year before giving it her approval. Another former selectwoman, Tanya Condon, also testified about approving a one-year renewal of Monroe’s contract.

Neither woman said she could explain how a two-year contract appeared on the town warrant or why there were several versions of the contract.

Monroe testified earlier that he was given the final two pages of a two-year renewal.

After the jury left for the day, Woodcock heard arguments about Sharon’s attempt to subpoena both attorney Sean Farris, of Chelsea, as well as records from Farris Law involving Monroe’s pending lawsuit against the town of Chelsea in Kennebec County Superior Court. Sharon is seeking the records to see whether Monroe testified to things at this trial that differ from what he has said previously.

Monroe filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the town in 2011, saying the Board of Selectmen had extended his contract for two years, but the board — consistent with testimony by two former board members on Wednesday — said the extension was only for the 2010-2011 season and not for 2011-2012.

Michelle Allott, representing Farris Law, Sean Farris — whose name is on the complaint — and Greg Farris, as well as Frank Monroe, sought to quash both subpoenas, saying, “The testimony of Sean Farris would involve the disclosure of attorney-client communications that are sacrosanct under the rules of evidence and the rules of professional conduct.”

Allott also said that disclosing material in the file “would be a bar violation for the attorney and the firm of Farris Law.”

For the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark, who is prosecuting Swan, sat in the back of the court as a spectator, watching Allott and Sharon present their arguments.

“One of the primary issues here is attorney-client privilege,” Woodcock said, as he asked Sharon why he would be entitled to material related to the contract dispute.

“Any pleadings in there would be statements of Mr. Monroe,” Sharon said.

Allott said Sharon could have any pleadings filed with the state court and discovery material shared with the attorney representing the town.

Records in superior court show Stephen Langsdorf represents the town and that a trial management conference set for June was continued and a request is pending to extend discovery.

Woodcock asked Allott to get the file from her car and share the nonprivileged portions of it with Sharon and to report back to him. The attorneys returned to the courtroom about 5 p.m. and told the judge the issues were resolved and Sharon would recall Monroe as a witness during the Swan trial if he needed to.

The trial continues today in Bangor.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
[email protected]

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