Crime and Justice

Murder suspect sentenced to prison for Cabot Creamery theft

RUTLAND — An Orleans man accused of slaying his wife was sentenced Thursday to prison and to pay restitution for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment from the cheese-making company where he worked.

A selfie Randall Swartz posted on his public Facebook page.

A federal judge sentenced former Cabot Creamery maintenance manager Randall Swartz, 59, to four years in prison and to pay $452,558 in restitution.

Swartz, who pleaded guilty to the fraud charges in April, will serve the sentence concurrently with any sentence in the pending homicide case, followed by up to three years of supervised release, U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford ordered.

He is facing a first-degree murder charge in state court for allegedly killing his wife in 2018

Swartz was the maintenance manager at Agri-Mark’s Cabot facility for 19 years until he was fired in February 2017.

Court documents show Swartz, who had the authority to order parts needed for the creamery, purchased equipment that was later assembled into reverse osmosis machines and sold through his private business, Kingdom RO. Court documents allege at least eight reverse osmosis machines, used in maple syrup production, were purchased and built by Agri-Mark for Swartz’s business from 2010 to 2017. Swartz sold more than $400,000 in machinery in that time.

Swartz also told Cabot employees to work for his own business while on company time both at the Cabot site and at Swartz’s home. One of the reverse osmosis machines Swartz built with Cabot resources in that time was sold back to Cabot for about $20,000 in 2011, according to an affidavit.  

Prosecutors had argued Swartz’s actions had cost the company $1.2 million, but the judge set restitution at $452,558.

The case was brought in federal court because Swartz used the United States Postal Service and other carriers to deliver equipment he fraudulently purchased.

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Swartz, who previously pleaded not guilty to the mail fraud charges, apologized in court and said his family was “deeply hurt.”

“Alcohol was a major contributor,” Swartz said. “I wish I could’ve seen it coming.”

Swartz’s attorney Richard Goldsborough told the judge that Swartz had no criminal record and had worked hard all his life.

“My client has accepted responsibility,” Goldsborough said, later adding, “He’s got an alcohol problem, judge.” 

Crawford said Swartz’s alcoholism was “not an excuse, but an explanation.”

“A lot of people in Vermont look really hard and struggle to find good employment,” Crawford said. “You were fortunate … To violate that opportunity and trust is a very strong offense.”

Crawford expressed concern about how Thursday’s sentencing would affect the pending murder case. He questioned if the sentence for the embezzlement case should run consecutively or concurrently with the other sentence.

“I’m sensitive to not getting in the state judge’s way,” Crawford said.

Swartz initially pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder after he allgedly shot and killed his wife Thea Swartz, 54. The state upped the charge to first-degree murder in March. 

Vermont State Police said Swartz shot his wife while she was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher in May 2018. Thea Swartz told the dispatcher that her husband had been drinking and was pointing a gun at her. An initial gunshot was fired, followed by a second gunshot four minutes later on the 911 call, police said.

When police arrived to Swartz’s home, they found Thea dead. Swartz was unconscious with a gunshot wound to his stomach from an apparent suicide attempt.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Waples said Thursday that the mail fraud case should not be impacted by the murder case.

“This federal sentence should stand on its own two feet,” Waples said.

Crawford said he was making his decision Thursday “out of respect for the state court.”

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“The homicide charge is in a category of its own,” Crawford said.

Two Cabot Creamery representatives sat in the back of the courtroom during the sentencing. They declined to comment.

Swartz is currently being held at the Northeast Regional Correctional Facility. Swartz’s attorney, who is representing him in both the murder and mail fraud cases, was going to give the judge a recommendation as to where Swartz should serve his sentence.

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