PORTLAND — An Auburn woman charged with having fentanyl to distribute is back in jail after her stint at a Bangor drug treatment program was cut short.

Donna Pagnani Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department photo

Donna Pagnani, 37, is charged with the federal crime of possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, a Class B felony punishable by five to 40 years in prison.

A federal drug agent wrote in an affidavit that about 7:30 p.m. May 31, 2019, a Maine State Police trooper spotted a 2006 black Cadillac that was speeding through a construction zone on the Maine Turnpike in York County.

The trooper saw a lone woman in the car and ran the registration. The driver’s license of the registered owner had been suspended.

The trooper pulled the car over and learned that Pagnani was driving her late mother’s car.

She told the officer she had come from Auburn and had intended to shop in Kittery, but had missed her exit.

The trooper learned after checking Pagnani’s license that she was on bail conditions and probation that allowed for random search for drugs on her person, in her vehicle and at her home.

A drug-sniffing dog detected narcotics in her car, but none were found at the scene.

After speaking with her probation officer, the trooper arrested Pagnani on a probation hold.

In the trooper’s cruiser, she waived her Miranda rights and told the trooper she had secreted nearly 50 grams of fentanyl in her vagina then produced the drugs, according to the affidavit.

Last fall, a U.S. District Court judge allowed Pagnani to be released from jail temporarily so she could attend a 4- to 6-month residential drug treatment program in Bangor.

Pagnani ended up leaving the program after nearly three months, her attorney, George Hess, told that judge Thursday, when Pagnani was back in court, dressed in a red jail suit, handcuffed, her ankles shackled.

Pagnani surrendered Thursday to be held until trial, making unnecessary a hearing on a prosecutor’s motion to have her bail revoked.

Hess said the Bangor treatment facility wasn’t equipped to address Pagnani’s “unique mental health problems” in addition to her substance abuse. Pagnani had made a “tremendous effort to overcome” her behavioral problems that ultimately served as an impediment to her successful treatment, Hess quoted a facility supervisor.

“It just was not a compatible relationship,” he said.

In court papers, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John Rich III wrote that Pagnani had a “lengthy criminal history beginning at age 15” and had a “significant substance abuse history.

When arrested in May, she had recently been freed on bail from a state probation revocation on another felony drug charge, Rich wrote.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.