FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MAINE. Hon. John A. Woodcock, Jr., U.S. District Judge
J. Mondou, with whom Mondou Law Office was on brief, for
Margaret D. McGaughey, Assistant United States Attorney, with
whom Thomas E. Delahanty II, United States Attorney, was on
brief, for appellee.
Howard, Chief Judge, Torruella and Barron, Circuit Judges.
HOWARD, Chief Judge.
Carole Swan, former selectperson for the Town of Chelsea,
Maine, appeals her convictions for Hobbs Act extortion, 18
U.S.C. § 1951(a), tax fraud, 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1),
and making false statements to obtain federal worker's
compensation, 18 U.S.C. § 1920. The sole issue raised on
appeal is the district court's denial of a motion to
suppress incriminating statements made during Swan's
interview with two sheriff's deputies. Swan argues that
suppression was required because her statements were obtained
through a custodial interrogation without the benefit of a
Miranda warning. See Miranda v. Arizona,
384 U.S. 436 (1966). Alternatively, she claims that her
incriminating statements were not made voluntarily. See
Blackburn v. Alabama, 361 U.S. 199 (1960). We affirm.
citizens of Chelsea, Maine (the "Town"), elected
Swan to serve as a selectperson, and she held that position
for nineteen years. During the course of her tenure, however,
Swan came under investigation for allegedly using her public
office to profit at the Town's expense. In early 2011, a
deputy from the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office
("KCSO") met with Frank Monroe, a local
businessman. Monroe told the deputy that Swan had instructed
him to over-bill the Town for sand delivery and pay her a
$10, 000 kickback.
receiving this information, the KCSO set up a sting
operation. Under the direction of the sheriff's office,
Monroe submitted an inflated bill to the Town for the amount
indicated by Swan. The invoice was subsequently approved and
a check to Monroe was issued. On February 3, 2011, Swan
collected the check from the Town and instructed Monroe to
pick it up from the mailbox located at the end of her
driveway. Monroe picked up the check, while being watched by
two KCSO deputies, Lieutenant Ryan Reardon and Detective
David Bucknam. Reardon and Bucknam then gave Monroe a bag of
money, with directions to deliver it to Swan. Monroe met Swan
and gave her the kickback. After accepting the funds, Swan
drove to the parking lot of a nearby laundromat. The deputies
followed Swan and parked behind her.
made her way towards the laundromat, the deputies stepped out
of their vehicle and approached her. Reardon, displaying his
badge, called out "Carole, " and told her, "I
want my money back." Swan responded that Monroe owed her
money. Reardon reiterated that he wanted the money back. Swan
returned to her vehicle, retrieved the bag of money, and
handed it to Reardon. She asked whether she was in trouble.
The deputies suggested that they discuss the issue at the
sheriff's office, rather than in the parking lot. Swan
assented and - accompanied by Bucknam - drove herself to the
station. At some point during the encounter in the parking
lot, Bucknam came into possession of Swan's phone.
sheriff's office, Swan met with Reardon and Bucknam in an
interview room. The deputies assured Swan that she was
"not under arrest, " that she was free to leave
"[a]t any point, " and that it was "fine"
if she did not "want to have [a] conversation" with
them. Despite these assurances, Swan stayed and spoke with
the deputies. The deputies initially maintained possession of
Swan's cellphone. When Swan asked whether she could have
the phone back, Bucknam told her that he would return it
soon, explaining that he was only keeping the phone so that
Swan would not get distracted. Shortly thereafter, Swan's
phone rang and she reached for it, saying that it was her
husband. Bucknam told Swan that he was "just gonna to
hit the thing" and send the call "to
voicemail." Swan responded, "All right."
the course of her hour-and-a-half conversation with deputies,
Swan made numerous incriminating statements, including an
admission that she had received approximately $25, 000 in
kickbacks. Towards the end of the interview,
Swan told the deputies that she needed to call her husband.
The officers returned her phone, offered to let her step
outside to make the call, and, ultimately - when Swan opted
to stay put - left the room. After speaking with her husband,
Swan told the officers that they could come back in and
resume the conversation. She retained her phone for the rest
of the interview and, when it ended, thanked the officers.
federal grand jury subsequently indicted Swan on multiple
counts of Hobbs Act extortion, as well as tax fraud and
making false statements to obtain federal worker's
compensation. The district court severed the charges,
allowing Swan to receive two separate jury trials: one for
extortion and a second for the remaining counts.
trial, Swan moved to suppress the statements that she had
made at the sheriff's office. Following an evidentiary
hearing, a magistrate judge recommended denying Swan's
motion, concluding that she had not been subjected to a
custodial interrogation and that her ...