Monday, March 10, 2014
PORTLAND -- A former state prosecutor who cut off his electronic monitoring device and fled Maine last November while out on bail pleaded guilty Tuesday to a new charge.
James Cameron, 50, had pleaded not guilty last month to one count of criminal contempt related to his 18-day escape, but he changed that plea to guilty before Judge John Woodcock in U.S. District Court.
At the time of his escape, Cameron had been free on bail, awaiting court action after an appeals court upheld a number of his convictions on child pornography charges.
Cameron will be sentenced on the criminal contempt charge in the next three to five months, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Clark.
Cameron, an assistant attorney general for 18 years, was fired in April 2008, four months after state police launched their investigation into his Internet activity. He was targeted after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported that multiple images of child pornography were found in a Yahoo account that belonged to his wife.
He was found guilty in 2010 on 13 counts of child pornography possession and transmission and was sentenced in 2011 to 16 years in prison.
Cameron appealed his conviction to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, however, and had been released on bail pending that decision. His release included several restrictions, including electronic monitoring and Internet monitoring.
The appeal decision came back on Nov. 14, 2012. A three-judge panel reversed six of the 13 counts but upheld the rest. The case was then sent back to Maine for either a retrial or a resentencing.
The next morning, Cameron cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and fled his home in Rome. He was picked up Dec. 2 by federal marshals in Albuquerque, N.M., and returned to Maine.
Clark said he could not comment on what Cameron did between Nov. 14 and Dec. 2 but said some of that information could come out at sentencing.
In addition to the sentencing on the criminal contempt charge, Cameron still needs to be resentenced on the remaining child pornography counts. Clark said he didn't know whether that would happen in conjunction with the criminal contempt sentencing.
The six remaining child pornography-related counts could earn Cameron five to 20 years in prison. The one count of criminal contempt could warrant a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and could be served consecutive to his other sentence, although the final discretion rests with Judge Woodcock.
Cameron spoke only briefly in court Tuesday in response to questions from Woodcock. He wore handcuffs and shackles on his ankles and a prison uniform with the words, "Strafford County DOC" stenciled on the back, a reference to the New Hampshire jail where he has been held since his return to Maine.
Cameron's court-appointed attorney, David Beneman, declined to comment after Tuesday's hearing.