January 9, 2013

Former Maine prosecutor pleads not guilty to contempt

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — A man who was once Maine's top drug prosecutor pleaded not guilty Tuesday to contempt of court in connection with allegations that he fled the state while appealing child-pornography convictions.

James Cameron faces a trial next month on the contempt charge, but will not be retried on the six counts of child pornography that were overturned by a federal appeals court in November.

He will be given a new sentence for the remaining seven convictions. He originally was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

On Tuesday, Chief Judge John A. Woodcock scheduled Cameron's trial on the contempt charge for Feb. 5 in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

Cameron, 50, appeared in U.S. District Court in Portland on Tuesday wearing a tan uniform from the Strafford County Jail in New Hampshire. He shuffled in wearing a chain between his ankles and in handcuffs, escorted by two deputy U.S. marshals.

Cameron was convicted Aug. 23, 2010, on 13 counts of transportation, receipt and possession of child pornography.

On Nov. 14, the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals overturned six of the convictions, saying Cameron never got an opportunity to confront his accusers -- employees of the Internet service provider Yahoo!, which provided authorities with some of the child pornography evidence.

The court upheld the other seven convictions.

The next day, Cameron, who was free on bail pending his appeal, cut his electronic monitoring bracelet and fled from his home in the town of Rome, authorities say.

He was arrested by deputy U.S. marshals Dec. 2 in Albuquerque, N.M.

The six convictions that the appeals court overturned were sent back to U.S. District Court for retrial, but prosecutors notified Cameron and his attorney last week that they would not try him again on those charges.

"We concluded that, ultimately, the sentence would not be materially affected one way or another" if Cameron were convicted on those counts, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark said after the hearing.

There are two components to the sentencing if Cameron is convicted of contempt of court.

Conviction for an offense that occurs while a federal defendant is out on bail is punishable by up to 10 years in prison in addition to any other sentence for the underlying offense. There is no limit on the potential sentence for a contempt of court conviction, and so theoretically could be punishable by life in prison, authorities said.

Cameron's court-appointed attorney, David Beneman, declined to comment after the hearing.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: dhench@pressherald.com

 

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