BANGOR, Maine — A Hudson man who a federal judge said introduced a “staggering” amount of drugs into the area that “washed the Bangor community in an extraordinary ocean of bath salts” two years ago was sentenced Monday to 15 years in federal prison on drug and gun charges.
In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock sentenced Ryan Orton, 30, to six years of supervised release after completing his term of incarceration.
Orton pleaded guilty in November 2012 to one count each of conspiracy to import a controlled substance, conspiracy to engage in money laundering and being a felon in possession of a firearm. His sentencing was delayed when he sought a new attorney in August.
Between October 2011 and his arrest on April 4, 2012, Orton led an operation the brought more than 17 pounds of two different types of bath salts into the Bangor area, according to the prosecution version of events to which he pleaded guilty. During that time period, Orton sent $68,000 to his supplier overseas in China. The 12 ounces of bath salts seized when he was arrested was valued at $190,000 on the street by agents with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.
The judge said that in fashioning a sentence, he had to consider the impact Orton’s dealing had had on the people who purchased drugs from him.
“The sentence I impose must reflect the misery you caused,” Woodcock told Orton just before imposing the sentence. “The tears shed by your mother here today are those shed by the parents of all the drug users and abusers whose addiction you fed.
“What the parents of those drug users and abusers tell me is that you are their worst nightmare,” the judge continued. “You are the person who helped their sons or daughter disappear in front of their eyes and become another person.”
Orton, who admitted being a drug addict himself, apologized for the harm he had inflicted on the community.
“I am humiliated that I contributed to Bangor’s bath salts epidemic,” he told Woodcock shortly before the sentence was imposed. “Drugs are by far my biggest regret. I don’t want to be remembered as the person who destroyed lives while members of my own family were out saving lives.”
Orton’s mother is a nurse and his sister is an EMT. Both tearfully urged Woodcock to show mercy and impose a sentence of 10 years.
Federal Public Defender Virginia Villa said that a decade in prison was enough time behind bars to punish Orton and protect society. She said that although her client had been convicted in state court of drug trafficking several times, he had never been sentenced to more than a year in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey recommended a sentence of 20 years in prison, in part, because Orton told investigators everything he knew about his overseas contacts and how the drugs he purchased were distributed locally. He said that despite Orton’s previous convictions and sentences, he always came out of jail and started dealing again.
After the sentencing, Casey declined to say whether Orton distributed more bath salts than others did before or after his arrest.
Under the federal sentencing guidelines, Orton faced between 30 and 60 years in prison due to the amount of drugs he admitted importing and selling, his criminal history and the fact that he had seven guns and ammunition at the home where he was living.
By pleading guilty, Orton also agreed to forfeit seven firearms, including two assault-type rifles and ammunition, three stun guns, night vision goggles, a ballistics vest, a laptop computer and more than $10,000 in cash along with other items.
Orton had been held at the Penobscot County Jail, unable to make bail, since his arrest . He is expected to be credited with time he’s been held since the federal charges were lodged in July 2012.