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Drug dealer gets prison furloughs to go bowling and to movies after less than a year

According to court records, Ashley Dowdy was identified as the supplier of the heroin.

STATEWIDE (WGME) -- A grieving mother is speaking out about her son's deadly drug overdose.

Tenlee Dipierro of Scarborough has never before talked publicly about her son's death, but she says it's time because dealers in our state need to be held more accountable.

As she holds on to a CD her son recorded, Dipierro describes Ryan as a talented musician.

"Very talented musician. Sometimes it's very hard to listen to and yet I feel very blessed to have it because he's no longer here," she said.

He was 27-years-old when he died almost two years ago from a drug overdose.

"He bought some tainted heroin that had fentanyl in it. He died from that. That was the last dose he ever bought," Dipierro said.

According to court records, Ashley Dowdy was identified as the supplier of the heroin.

"Ashley admitted on Facebook that she had sold the deceased heroin the day before his body was found ... Ashley was worried about getting in trouble because of the heroin overdose," according to a police affidavit.

Last February she pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including unlawful drug trafficking.

She was sentenced to two years in prison.

"I do think the dealers need to pay a higher price. It's sending a bad message that they can continue to deal and sell and people can continue to die," Dipierro said.

Dipierro said she was equally shocked to learn after less than a year in prison, Dowdy started getting furlough passes to go home to be with her family on holidays.

"I don't have Ryan here with me on my holidays. I think she should be doing her time," she said.

According to this victim notification from the Department of Corrections, Dowdy got four furlough passes this month, four hours each, to go bowling and to the movies.

Corrections Commissioner Joseph Fitzpatrick didn't respond to our request to talk about the furlough visits.

According to the department's policy "passes may be granted to provide successful reentry into the community" or to "maintain family ties."

"I think our children's lives are worth more than a couple years and furloughs and early release," Dipierro said.

Ashley Dowdy's attorney Mike Turndorf said it's important to understand that while Dowdy was convicted of dealing drugs, the state couldn't prove she sold Ryan his deadly dose.

"So sorry for the family, and I know my client is very sad about his death," Turndorf said, "there was so much paraphernalia and other evidence of drug use in his residence they could not prove from which packet of the many packets there were there he chose to draw whatever it was that fatal."

Still with tough talk from the governor to the president about punishments for drug dealers, Dipierro wonders why the woman who sold her son drugs only got a two year sentence. The Maine Office of the Attorney General prosecuted the case.

"It was more complicated than that as it often is," said Attorney General Janet Mills.

In this case and most others more than one drug is implicated in the overdose death, Mills explained.

In fact, in 2016, the medical examiner found 79% of overdose deaths were caused by two or more drugs.

"Proving that particular drug caused the death of the individual is the barrier. So often it's a lethal cocktail of things. It may not simply be the drug that person bought or consumed minutes before the death," Mills said.

Mills is now trying to change state law.

Instead of having to prove a drug caused a death, harsher charges and penalties could be imposed if a drug contributed to it.

"My bill would streamline the elements of proof a little bit more and make it easier to prove that drug in combination with other drugs contributed to the death of another human being," Mills said.

The state's Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee voted suggesting the attorney general's bill should pass, but it still hasn't had a vote before the full legislature.

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