January 4, 2013

Cameron facing retrial on dismissed counts, new contempt charge

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

A former state prosecutor convicted of child pornography charges faces a retrial next month on six convictions that were dismissed by an appeals court.

click image to enlarge

James Cameron's booking photo, from the Sandoval County Detention Center in New Mexico.

Contributed photo

The same court upheld James M. Cameron’s convictions on seven other child pornography charges.

Meanwhile, a new criminal contempt charge was filed against Cameron on Wednesday based on his flight from Maine while he was free on bail pending appeal. He is scheduled to be in U.S. District Court in Portland for a 11 a.m. hearing on Tuesday, so a federal public defender can be formally appointed to represent him and a judge can rule on the waiver of bail.

Cameron, 50, of Rome and formerly of Hallowell, is in federal custody somewhere, officials won’t say where, after his arrest a month ago in Albuquerque, N.M.

David Beneman, a federal public defender based in Portland, told the court in writing late last week that Cameron consented to remain in custody and waived his right to a detention hearing. The government, however, wants a hearing so Cameron can be told in open court of the criminal contempt charge and of a trial date on that charge, according to a document filed with the court.

Beneman did not return a phone call Thursday seeking comment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark said Thursday he doesn’t know whether the contempt charge against Cameron would be dealt with at next week’s hearing.

“It’s unclear at this point whether the court will require the defendant to be in court,” Clark said, though he expected Cameron would be there since the hearing remained on the court’s public calendar.

Authorities said Cameron cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and fled his Rome residence on Nov. 15, a day after a federal appeals court upheld seven of 13 child pornography convictions against him. He remained on the lam for nearly three weeks before the U.S. Marshals Service arrested him Dec. 2 in Albuquerque, N.M.

A new trial on the convictions vacated by the appeals court is set for Feb. 5 in U.S. District Court in Bangor. Citing provisions of the federal Speedy Trial Act, Clark said the retrial has to be held within 70 days of the appeals court ruling, which was issued Nov. 14.

The contempt charge filed this week said Cameron violated the Aug. 11, 2011, bail order by committing the following:

 • breaking curfew and leaving the state without permission from his probation officer;

 • removing the monitoring bracelet and disabling his computer Internet monitoring system; 
 
• changing his address without permission.

The calendar of criminal cases indicates the retrial on the six convictions overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit is set for Feb. 5 in front of U.S. District Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. in Bangor.

The appeals court, in striking down some of the convictions, said Cameron should have had an opportunity to cross-examine Yahoo! employees who prepared the child pornography reports. The judges also said that allowing the reports to be admitted “violated Cameron’s rights under the confrontation clause.”

Cameron was the chief drug crimes prosecutor in the Maine Office of the Attorney General, where he spent 18 years as an assistant attorney general before being fired in April 2008. He was indicted on the child pornography charges Feb. 11, 2009.

He became the target of an investigation after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported Yahoo! had found multiple images of child pornography in an email account belonging to his wife.

Cameron was convicted of 13 charges on Aug. 23, 2010, after a six-day non-jury trial in federal court in Portland, and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. He had served about a year of that sentence when the appeals court told Woodcock, who had been the trial judge, to set bail conditions so Cameron could be released while his appeal was pending.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
badams@centralmaine.com

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