PORTLAND — A Lewiston man who fled his war-torn native Somalia as a boy after his father was killed resorted to drugs to salve his trauma, his attorney told a judge who sentenced him Thursday to more than two years in prison.

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Androscoggin County Jail

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, 28, appeared by in U.S. District Court by videoconference wearing a blue jail suit and blue surgical mask for sentencing on a charge possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine.

Mohamed had pleaded guilty last year to the Class C felony, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Judge Nancy Torresen imposed a 27-month sentence plus three years of supervised release in keeping with the recommendation of prosecutors.

A dozen of Mohamed’s friends and family members attended the videoconference, half of them addressing the judge, appealing to her to give Mohamed “a second chance.”

Defense attorney Luke Rioux said Mohamed’s life was riddled with trauma. His father was killed in Somalia when he was 6 months old. His father’s sister raised the boy, fleeing with him to Kenya when the boy was 6 years old. They lived in a refugee camp for five years where Mohamed languished amid a backdrop of constant violence and no real education, Rioux said.


At age 11, he and his aunt, who was severely wounded by an explosion, came to the United States, settling first in Missouri, then North Carolina before coming to Maine.

Mohamed had no relationship with his mother or siblings until they managed to flee Somalia and reunite with Mohamed in 2011 in Lewiston, Rioux said.

His aunt, Fatumo Ali, spoke tearfully to the judge Thursday through an interpreter, seeking Mohamed’s release so that he could once again assist her due to her disabilities.

In June 2018, investigators had used a wiretap to intercept a phone call between Mohamed and his dealer agreeing to meet at a Howe Street address in Lewiston, according to court papers. Agents watched him go into the building and come out, then followed the car in which he was a passenger. The car was searched and the drugs found.

After his arrest, Mohamed began getting psychological counseling. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from years of trauma, Rioux said.

Despite his childhood years spent far from a classroom, he had been able to complete most of high school but had failed to graduate. He later earned a GED.


“I know you’re smart … and have a lot of potential,” Torresen told Mohamed after imposing her sentence. She praised the family and community support shown for him.

She called his “very devastating upbringing” a “remarkable story,” but said “it really isn’t a happy ending because you chose to sell drugs.”

She called him a “street-level dealer” who sold drugs to support his habit.

Torresen said prosecutors were lenient in agreeing to allow him to be free on bail pending sentencing, but he was caught with drugs and his bail was revoked. They also recommended he be sentenced at the low end of the guidelines.

Mohamed told the judge Thursday: “I accept full responsibility for my actions.” He apologized to “all the people I’ve hurt” and acknowledged that drugs “are a big problem in this community.”

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