PORTLAND — A Poland man thanked the state trooper Tuesday who arrested him on the Maine Turnpike in January for having 28 grams of fentanyl.

Travis Rainer, 48, told a U.S. District Court judge the trooper who pulled him over in Wells for following a truck too closely “saved my life.”

Since his arrest on a charge of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, Rainer has spent six weeks in a residential recovery program in Lewiston and helped create a drop-in center in Lewiston for recovering addicts, where he also volunteers.

Rainer said he has completed a 12-step recovery program and plans to pursue a career in alcohol and substance abuse counseling.

U.S. District Court Judge Jon Levy praised ‘Rainer, saying he “unequivocally turned his life around.”

Levy deviated from federal sentencing guidelines for the Class C felony, he said, opting to forego a recommended prison sentence and, instead, imposing a three-year term of probation.

The judge said “any period of prison would significantly interrupt (Rainer’s) progress.”

Levy’s decision was driven partly by the “rare” circumstances in Rainer’s case, where he serves as the primary daytime caretaker of his 13-year-old son, who has autism and is unable to be left alone. Rainer is responsible for taking the boy to school and his many appointments.

The boy’s mother and grandmother read statements at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing urging Levy to allow Rainer to remain at home with his son, saying the boy would struggle with any change in caregivers.

The boy’s mother, Jennifer Emery, who has been with Rainer for 16 years and works as a nurse with adults with autism, said Rainer “has always been there for me and our family.”

Levy said he expects Rainer to follow through with his intention to become a counselor to help others who struggle with addiction. He asked Rainer to send him a letter when he had achieved that goal.

“I want you to be a source of hope to other people in your circumstance,’ Levy said.

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