PORTLAND — A Jay man who sold roughly 200 grams of fentanyl to undercover buyers was sentenced Wednesday to six years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen told 28-year-old Devon Ashton, “you grew up really hard,” referencing an absent father, a drug-addicted mother and being made to bear the burden of clothing his siblings, sometimes by stealing while growing up in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Ashton suffers from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health issues that his attorney, Roger Brunelle Jr., told the judge his client sought to treat through illicit drug use.

Ashton never gained financially through his drug sales and only engaged in trafficking to “feed his habit,” Brunelle said.

While housed at a New Hampshire county jail awaiting trial since his May 24 arrest, Ashton has completed 52 programs offered at that facility, including first aid, construction safety, business accounting, communications and anger management.

But Ashton also was involved in a fight at the jail where he repeatedly punched and kicked another inmate, an incident that Torresen on Wednesday pointed to as a concern.


“Deep down inside Mr. Ashton, there’s a good person,” Brunelle said, urging Torresen to impose a five-year sentence, well below the 92- to 115-month range called for in the federal sentencing guidelines.

He noted Ashton pleaded guilty in July to a charge of distribution and possession with intent to distribute more than 40 grams of fentanyl, a felony punishable by five to 40 years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Noah Falk told the judge Wednesday that Ashton contributed to an ongoing fatal opioid overdose epidemic.

He recommended Torresen stay within the sentencing guideline range.

“The defendant is a violent drug dealer,” Falk wrote in his sentencing memorandum.

“He has prior criminal convictions reflecting his violent behavior, including unlawful possession of a firearm and assault; an additional firearm and assault case is pending against him in Massachusetts,” Falk wrote.


“He represents a substantial danger to the community, both because of the poison he peddles and because of his penchant for firearms and fisticuffs,” Falk wrote.

He cited a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistic that over a yearlong period ending in March 2021, more than 100,000 Americans died from a drug overdose.

“As long as fentanyl continues to offer a lucrative market for drug dealers, this crisis will continue — unless opioid addiction is treated (on the demand side) and drug traffickers are caught and punished,” Falk wrote.

Ashton apologized to the judge, his family and to the community and expressed his concern for anyone whose drug habit he helped feed.

“I’m a smart, loving and talented young man with a bright future,” he said.

A high school graduate, he learned carpentry and the construction trade from an uncle, something that should increase his chances for success once he has served his prison sentence, he said.


“I would like a chance to put all of this behind me,” he told the judge. “I hope you do not believe it is too late for me to achieve my goals.”

Torresen echoed Falk’s concerns about the drug Ashton was dealing, saying “fentanyl is such a deadly drug … and you’re responsible for spreading it around Maine.”

She said there were two sides to Ashton, the boy who raised himself while suffering “a lot of trauma” and the drug dealer with anger issues that can erupt into violence.

“Women describe you as loving and caring,” she said.

Torresen imposed a four-year term of supervised release after Ashton is freed from prison.

“I think you can turn this around,” she told him.

Ashton had sold fentanyl to undercover buyers on four occasions totaling roughly 200 grams between January and March 2023, according to investigators.

In March, Ashton was stopped for speeding in Lewiston, and $8,000 in cash and about 59 grams of cocaine were seized.

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