PORTLAND — David Cleveland told a judge Thursday he found his only son, Jesse, in his bedroom slumped over on the floor, face down in a fetal position just over a year ago at their Auburn home.

Kevin M. Camp Submitted photo

His son had died from an overdose.

“He was cold, blue, had fluid coming out of his mouth,” Cleveland said, his voice cracking.

He called 911, then performed CPR until the ambulance came, knowing all along that his son’s rigid body was already lifeless.

“I sleep in that room every night,” Cleveland said, “to try to face this thing, to try to make sense of it. It does not make sense.”

Cleveland’s brother, John, said he watched that morning as David Cleveland helped carry the body bag that contained the remains of his son down the steps of their house and into a waiting funeral hearse.

John Cleveland, a former state senator, said the Cleveland family who packed U.S. District Court room No. 3 Thursday was seeking justice for Jesse, who was 29 when he died on Jan. 27, 2019.

A toxicology report showed Jesse Cleveland died from an overdose of fentanyl and benzodiazepines.

Each of the two defendants who appeared in federal court Thursday for sentencing had been charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, a Class C felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Had Jesse Cleveland died from a fentanyl overdose alone, prosecutors said the defendants likely would have been charged with a more serious crime.

Frank Lynch, 34, of Leeds had sold Jesse Cleveland the lethal dose of fentanyl. He was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison.

Kevin Camp, 43, of Auburn, who sold the fentanyl to Lynch, who, in turn, sold it to Jesse Cleveland, was sentenced to six years.

Both men had pleaded guilty to the crime, waiving trial. They expressed remorse Thursday shortly before U.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal imposed their sentences.

Frank L. Lynch Submitted photo

Family members on both sides of the case described tearfully how the scourge of drug addiction had shattered the lives of those survivors in their respective families.

John Cleveland said Jesse’s death had triggered among family members depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“This is a deep wound,” he said.

Jesse Cleveland’s sisters both spoke about the lasting effect his death has had on them.

Ashlee Cleveland, Jesse’s younger sister, said she remains “very angry.”

Her brother was her best friend and the “most important person to me,” she said.  His loss is “unbearable on a daily basis.”

Christine Cleveland, Jesse’s older sister, said she no longer experiences joy as she did before his death.

On the day of his overdose, she said, “the words I heard ripped out my soul — my brother is dead.”

Two weeks before he died, she had told him not to contact her until he was off drugs, hoping “tough love” would set him on a road to recovery. Those were the last words she ever spoke to him.

“Nothing will replace my brother,” she said.

Jesse Cleveland’s grandmother, Lucille Spencer, said the last time she kissed her only grandson was when he was lying in a casket.

“You have taken away something from our family that cannot be refilled,” she told the defendants.

Jesse Cleveland died just months before his graduation from Central Maine Community College in Auburn where he was on the Dean’s list.

His family’s request of the judge for the maximum punishment for the two defendants will not come close to the death sentence they imposed on Jesse Cleveland, his uncle John told the judge.

They knew when they sold the fentanyl that killed Jesse Cleveland that they were committing a crime, but did it “solely for profit,” Cleveland said.

He acknowledged the broader problem of opioids that is “destroying our community,” he said, noting the two defendants are part of that problem.

“We as a society need to do more to help addicts like Jesse and Frank,” Lynch’s attorney, Gail Latouf, told the judge.

“I am deeply sorry about my actions,” Lynch said.

He said Jesse Cleveland was a “really good friend” whom he met in the drug world.

“I wish I could take his place,” he said.

After getting a text message from Jesse Cleveland to buy heroin or fentanyl, also known as “down,” Lynch picked him up and took him to buy fentanyl on the night of Jan. 26, 2019. Lynch bought the drugs from Camp while Cleveland waited in the car.

Lynch sold the drugs to Cleveland, who apparently snorted them. The next morning, he was found dead in his bedroom.

Lynch was taken into state custody at age 8 after living in his mother’s car. Five years later, his older sister was appointed his legal guardian.

In 2009, after he was robbed, kidnapped and assaulted, he began self-medicating with painkillers, Latouf wrote in court papers.

He has two children.

His mother, Kathleen Nickerson, said: “Frankie was a good boy.”

She said he’s had a “rough life” and needs rehabilitation.

“Frankie was helping a buddy,” she said. “He’s not a drug dealer. It’s not like he did it on purpose.”

Kevin Camp apologized Thursday to his family, the court and “anyone hurt by my addiction.”

His said his arrest turned out to be his rescue, forcing him to stop abusing drugs.

His attorney, David Beneman, said his client had been addicted to cocaine in 2002 for which he was hospitalized. He went to federal prison for being a felon with a firearm. While in custody, he was shot by a guard, requiring a hip replacement, a femur rod and two titanium spacers in his lower back.

Shot again in 2017 by a jealous boyfriend of a woman he had dated, he was prescribed painkillers that led to the end of his sobriety.

Camp has a history of PTSD, anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD and bipolar disorder, Beneman said, and was hospitalized in 2015 and 2017 after attempting to kill himself.

Camp’s brother, Joe Jr., said Thursday that said his brother hadn’t intended to kill anybody while selling drugs.

“He was supporting his addiction,” he said.

Lynch had worked with Auburn police after his arrest and identified Camp as his supplier. Lynch agreed to place recorded calls to Camp about meeting for another purchase like the one he made for Jesse Cleveland.

Police later arrested Camp and found five “baggies” of fentanyl in his pants. Drugs also were seized from his Auburn apartment.

“We have a terrible, terrible drug epidemic in this district,” Judge Singal said Thursday. “It seems insoluble.”

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.

filed under: