Superior Court Justice William Anderson called 28-year-old Zachary Borg "extremely reckless" for leaving fentanyl where his daughter could ingest it.
Zachary Borg looks for family as he addresses the court Monday during his sentencing for crimes connected with the fentanyl overdose of his 11-month-old daughter at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

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A Superior Court judge on Monday sentenced a Corinna father to six years in prison with all but two suspended for crimes connected with the fentanyl overdose of his 11-month-old daughter last year.

Zachary Borg, 28, was found guilty earlier this month of aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, a Class B crime, as well as domestic violence assault, domestic violence reckless conduct and endangering the welfare of a child, all Class D crimes.

Superior Court Justice William Anderson found Borg not guilty of aggravated furnishing of scheduled drugs to a minor, a Class B crime, and not guilty of domestic violence assault with a dangerous weapon and domestic violence reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, both Class C crimes.

The judge described Borg’s leaving the fentanyl where his child could ingest it as “extremely reckless.”

“I am convinced that if it weren’t for medical intervention, the child would have died,” Anderson said.

Anderson presided over Borg’s jury-waived trial in late September.

The judge rejected the idea put forward by Chelsea Lynds, assistant district attorney for Penobscot County, that an illegal drug could be used as a weapon.

In finding Borg guilty, Anderson said that he created the circumstances in which his daughter could ingest the drugs by leaving residue on a coffee table and on a pink teddy bear in the child’s crib, but did not directly give it to the girl. Borg allowed people to use drugs in the home the day before the girl overdosed. Anderson said the prosecution had not shown that the drug was used as a weapon.

The girl’s mother, 24-year-old Taezja DiPietro of Corinna, is facing the same charges as Borg. She did not testify against him and may be tried at a later date if the prosecutor does not offer her a plea deal. She remains free on bail but did not attend Borg’s sentencing.

Borg has been at the Penobscot County Jail in Bangor unable to post bail since his arrest in June 2021. The time he has been incarcerated will apply to his sentence.

He asked Anderson to allow him to be reunited with his children and their mother as soon as possible.

“I just want everybody to know that [my daughter] is fine,” Borg said. “She’s healthy. She’s happy. We have video visits twice a week. I never intended for any of that to happen.”

Borg told Anderson that his daughter’s overdose was an accident caused by his drug addiction.

“I never really thought about the consequences of my drug use on my family,” he said. “This whole situation has haunted me the past 17 months. I want to apologize to my family for being so selfish.”

Lynds recommended Borg be sentenced to between five and seven years with all but some years suspended. Defense attorney Harris Mattson of Bangor urged Anderson to impose a sentence of four years with all but 18 months suspended, which would allow Borg to be released before Christmas. Harris has said that the conviction and sentence will be appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

In addition to prison time, Anderson sentenced Borg to four years of probation with conditions that include treatment for substance use disorder and no drug use. If Borg were to violate his bail conditions, he could be sent back to prison for up to three years.

The parents were arrested after the dispatch center in Bangor received a call about 9:17 a.m. on June 26, 2021, reporting the child was in medical distress, according to the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office. The child was in cardiac arrest when first responders arrived.

She was taken to Northern Light Sebasticook Valley Hospital in Pittsfield, where she was successfully resuscitated and stabilized, then flown to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Borg suggested to medical personnel that they try using naloxone to revive her, and it worked immediately.

Borg faced up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000 on the most serious charge of aggravated assault.