Charged with murder, Orleans man now faces federal charges in fraud scheme

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Randall Swartz pleaded not guilty on Monday to a charge of second degree murder in Orleans Superior Court in Newport. Photo by Ellen Bartlett/VTDigger

Two days after he was arraigned on a charge of second-degree murder for the fatal shooting of his wife in their Orleans home, Randall Swartz now faces federal charges for a scheme to defraud his former employer of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that a federal grand jury in Rutland had indicted Swartz, 58, earlier in the day on 11 counts of mail fraud, for a scheme that involved using Cabot Creamery Co-operative funds to purchase the parts for equipment that he assembled and sold in a side business.

Swartz appeared in Orleans County Superior Court in Newport on Monday to face the second degree murder charge for the shooting death of his wife Thea Swartz, 54, on May 15. He entered a not guilty plea, and was ordered held without bail at the Northern State Correctional Facility.

Swartz will be arraigned on the federal charges in the “near future,” the statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The federal fraud probe, which featured an FBI raid on the Swartz home in March 2017, has been underway for more than a year, court records indicate.

Until he was fired in January 2017, Swartz had been the longtime maintenance manager at the Cabot Creamery Co-operative, the venerable Vermont cheese producer, now partly owned by Agri-Mark.

As maintenance manager, the indictment said, Swartz was responsible for maintaining, repairing and replacing all machinery and equipment at the Cabot plant. The company’s maintenance budget amounted to several hundred thousand dollars each month.

Swartz also owned a side business, Kingdom Reverse Osmosis, or Kingdom RO, which sold reverse osmosis systems, which are used in the processing of maple sap into syrup.

The Cabot plant also employed reverse osmosis technology, the indictment says. But “beginning no later than 2010” and continuing up to the time of his termination, the indictment says, Swartz had been “causing the company to order hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of reverse osmosis equipment that was too small for Agri-Mark to use in its cheese-making processes …

“Instead, Swartz allegedly stole the equipment and installed it in smaller RO systems he sold to clients of Kingdom RO,” the indictment says.

Other court records indicate he even sold a system back to the cooperative.

“It is charged that Swartz further defrauded Agri-Mark by using company employees, on company time, to assemble and install these RO systems,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office statement said.

If convicted of the federal offense, Swartz could face as many as 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000. If convicted of the state murder charge, Swartz could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The charge Swartz faced on Monday was for fatally shooting his wife while she was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher. Police reports and court records say Swartz then turned the gun on himself. Police arriving at the Swartz home found Thea Swartz dead, and Randall Swartz alive, but unresponsive.

He was treated for a gunshot wound to his torso, and released on Friday from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Richard Goldsborough, the defense attorney representing Swartz in the state murder case, declined comment on the federal case, saying he had not yet had a chance to read the federal indictment.

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