A panel of judges in Boston will hear oral arguments next month in an appeal by Carole Swan, a longtime Chelsea selectwoman, who is serving an 87-month prison term for taking kickbacks and defrauding the federal government.

Swan, 57, was convicted of 10 separate charges in two trials and is currently imprisoned at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut. The appeal to the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest in a long series of court battles in the case, which dates back to 2011. In the appeal, Swan alleges that Kennebec County sheriff’s deputies made a mistake by not reading her Miranda rights during an interview in which she confessed to part of the crime.

Last December, an appellate panel denied her request for bail pending appeal a month after the trial judge rejected the same request.

Swan through her attorney Darla Mondou, says the federal judge in Maine erred in refusing to suppress statements Swan made to two deputies at the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office in February 2011.

She was questioned by the deputies shortly after the officers photographed her in her truck on a snow-banked Augusta street getting a sting package from Whitefield contractor Frank Monroe.

Excerpts from that interview — which the trial prosecutor said contained a confession — were played in court at Swan’s jury trials, and Swan herself testified about the interview, saying she lied to deputies because she did not trust them and she “did not feel as though (she) could tell them what was going on.”


Swan said she told deputies what she believed they wanted to hear in order to get out of the interview room and report to her husband, Marshall Swan, who she has said was abusive to her.

“The district court clearly erred in applying the law to the supported facts,” Mondou says in her “Statement of Issues.” “This Court must vacate denial of the motion to suppress and remand for new trials.”

The federal government, however, says the appeals court should reject Swan’s claim.

“The suppression court correctly ruled that Swan was not in custody when the police questioned her, with the result that no Miranda warnings were required,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret D. McGaughey wrote in her summary. “The court also correctly ruled that the confession was voluntary. In light of the overwhelming evidence of guilt that was presented at both trials, even if error occurred in admitting the confession during either proceeding, it was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Both Mondou and McGaughey asked the court to hear oral arguments.

“Oral argument is likely to assist the Court in this factually-intense matter as the facts and legal argument stemming therefrom require more extensive clarification beyond that which can be illuminated in the briefs,” Mondou wrote.


The record in the case is voluminous, starting with the investigation in February 2011, which resulted in state and later federal charges.

On July 27, 2013, Carole Swan was convicted of two counts of workers’ compensation fraud (Aug. 1, 2008 and May 7, 2010) and five counts of income tax fraud 2006-2010. After a separate trial, she was convicted on Sept. 17, 2013, of three counts of extortion for using her position as a selectwoman to seek kickbacks from Monroe, who held the contract to plow and sand Chelsea’s roads.

Her earliest scheduled release date is listed as Dec. 6, 2020.

At the district court suppression hearing in December 2012, Swan took the stand and admitted telling the detectives that she had accepted kickbacks from other contractors as well as Monroe and had taken money for years for “greasing the wheels” and was “the guilty one.” She also said responded “yes” to questions about whether she knew she was “ripping off the town” by having Monroe overbill it for sand.

She also gave some startling testimony, saying that despite almost two decades of conducting the town’s business, she was illiterate and capable of reading only numbers.

Swan’s defense attorney at the time, Leonard Sharon, maintained in the motion to suppress that Swan was not given Miranda warnings, that she was in custody during the interview at the sheriff’s office that afternoon, and that her statements were made involuntarily in response to pressure.


Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuck recommended denial of the motion to suppress, commenting in a footnote about Swan’s credibility. Kravchuk wrote that she “found her testimony about most events highly strategic in nature and less than reliable.”

U.S. District Court Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. affirmed that recommendation and refused to suppress the statements.

The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear the arguments at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 11.

Betty Adams — 621-5631


Twitter: @betadams

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