PORTLAND — An Auburn man was sentenced Thursday to three years in federal prison for intending to sell fentanyl and being a felon with a gun.

Tyler Span Androscoggin County Jail photo

Tyler Span, 26, appeared via videoconference in U.S. District Court from a county jail.

The charge of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl is punishable by up to 20 years in prison; felon in possession of a firearm, 10 years.

After his release from prison, Span will be on supervised release for three years, U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby ordered.

Prosecutors wrote in court papers that police were called for a report of domestic violence at an Auburn apartment where Span was staying. He was gone when police arrived, but they spoke with a woman who had been dating and living with him.

She secured a protection from abuse order against him.


The woman had told police they could search the apartment for drugs and a gun she said Span kept there and she gave police the keys. The lease was in her name.

Police later returned to the apartment to serve Span with the protection order and arrest him on a charge of domestic violence assault.

When officers arrived, one of them knocked on the front door while another could see Span through a window.

He removed a firearm from under a bedroom pillow, grabbed a lanyard with assorted keys, carried the firearm to a nearby television stand cabinet, unlocked the cabinet with one of the keys on the lanyard, and placed the firearm inside the television stand cabinet before closing and locking it, according to prosecutors.

He opened the door and police arrested him.

The woman told police that Span kept his gun locked in a cabinet under the television if it wasn’t under his pillow.


Officers secured a search warrant for the cabinet.

In it, they seized a loaded Glock model 45, 9 mm pistol, an SGM Tactical 33-round magazine, 31 rounds of 9 mm ball ammunition, drugs in both tablet and powder form, digital scales, empty plastic bags, and $5,520 in cash, prosecutors said.

Those items were forfeited by Span on Thursday during his sentencing.

Because Span had been convicted in 2015 for breaking and entering a building at nighttime with the intent to commit a felony in Massachusetts, he was charged with being a felon with a firearm.

Span apologized Thursday to family and friends and said he took full responsibility for his actions.

He said he plans to complete his GED diploma and sobriety, start a business and have a “big family” one day.


His attorney, David Beneman, wrote in court papers that his client was biracial growing up poor in the Twin Cities where he was raised by his mother who “worked all the time,” mostly as a waitress.

He lacked a male role model in his life, was physically abused as a young boy by a boyfriend of his mother. Span was locked in a room and beaten, Beneman wrote, and was further abused by cousins while living at his grandmother’s apartment.

The apartment caught fire and although they all escaped, they lost their possessions and Tyler was left with a pervasive fear his family would die, Beneman wrote.

“He was bullied at school, often over his mixed racial background. This led to him disliking school and he left school before graduating,” according to Beneman.

The death of his brother, who died in 2017, “deepened Tyler’s depression and aggravated his drug use,”
Beneman wrote.

He had rebounded by working full time as a cook in Topsham until the pandemic hit last year and he was laid off.


“Out of work and isolated, his depression and drug use worsened,” culminating in his arrest in December last year, Beneman wrote.

“Tyler was using about three to five pills per day, needing ‘them to feel well and function’ throughout the day,” Beneman wrote.

Hornby said he would recommend Span enroll in a 500-hour recovery program in prison.

During his supervised release, he must commit no new crimes and submit to drugs tests.

Hornby said he was impressed by the strides Span had made while incarcerated.

“Are you going to be a captive of your addiction and past?” Hornby asked him, “or a mentor to young people?”

Horby continued: “I can’t decide that for you. You’re the only one who can make that call.”

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