PORTLAND — A federal judge sentenced a Lewiston woman Monday to four years in prison for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Shawna Burch Androscoggin County Jail photo

Shawna Burch, 23, was facing up to 40 years in prison on the drug charge.

She pleaded guilty to the federal felony last year.

In a sentencing memorandum, defense attorney John Scott Webb wrote that Burch “was raised in a home rife with abuse, addiction, and mental illness.”

Her parents were “severe alcoholics” who physically abused her, Webb wrote.

She was sexually assaulted at age 6, Webb wrote.


“Shawna grew up without any sense of safety or belonging,” he wrote.

“Her daily, heavy use of multiple substances” started at age 11, Webb wrote, influenced by her witnessing the “severe active alcoholism” of both parents.

She began using methamphetamine at age 18 when she was in an abusive relationship with a man 18 years older than she was, Webb wrote.

At the Strafford County (New Hampshire) Jail, where Burch had been detained pending trial, she participated in a 90-day treatment program for substance use disorder.

After completing the program, Burch stayed on as a mentor to other women, spending a total of 10 months in the program, Webb wrote.

Burch joined in a variety of classes at the jail, focusing on healthy relationships, yoga and meditation, trauma and domestic violence recovery, spiritual growth, and aftercare planning, Webb wrote. She also became a regular and active member of Narcotics Anonymous, he wrote.


Prosecutors said Burch was driving a black Mercedes SUV on state Route 126 in Sabattus on Sept. 6, 2021, when a Lewiston police officer pulled her over for not wearing a seat belt.

The officer was told at the scene that Burch was on bail conditions stemming from drug trafficking charges, according to court records.

One of Burch’s bail conditions was that she was prohibited from having any illegal drugs for which she, her vehicle and home could be searched at random.

The officer used a drug-sniffing dog at the scene of the stop.

When the dog alerted to an odor of narcotics on the SUV, officers searched the vehicle and found a package that contained what they suspected was methamphetamine that had been hidden under the spare tire in the SUV’s trunk, according to court records.

A second package that contained multiple layers of packing material also was located in the vehicle, specifically in a void in the driver’s side rear quarter panel of the SUV.


After Burch was read her Miranda warnings, she agreed to talk to police, admitting that she had the methamphetamine in the SUV, according to court records.

Burch also told police that she distributed the drug.

A trained chemist lab-tested the packages found in the SUV and determined they contained more than 50 grams of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine, according to court records.

Burch had “intended to distribute the methamphetamine and the amount of the substances recovered were consistent with further distribution,” according to prosecutors.

After her release from prison, Burch will be on supervised release for four years.

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