Ex-Maine drug prosecutor pleads not guilty to child porn charges

Posted Feb. 17, 2009, at 11:06 a.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 10:43 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The state’s former top drug prosecutor pleaded not guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to child pornography charges.

James M. Cameron, 46, formerly of Hallowell, was indicted Feb. 11 by a federal grand jury in Bangor on 16 counts of transporting, receiving and possessing child pornography between July 10, 2006, and Jan. 26, 2008.

He allegedly uploaded images of child pornography to an Internet-based Yahoo photo album using five different screen names. Cameron, according to the indictment, also transmitted digital images of child pornography using Google Hello, an Internet-based chat and file-sharing service.

The images of child pornography allegedly were found on Cameron’s home computers. His work computer was seized but no images were found on it, according to his attorney, Peter Rodway of Portland.

Information about what triggered the investigation of Cameron was not available Tuesday.

Cameron turned himself in to the U.S. Marshals Service on Tuesday morning after his attorney learned over the weekend that Cameron had been indicted.

He confidently answered U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk’s questions and said, “Not guilty” before the court clerk completed the question “How do you plead, are you guilty or not guilty?”

“Jim never knowingly possessed child pornography,” Rodway said after the 20-minute arraignment. “Jim is relieved that this process has started, and he is absolutely committed and enthused about defending these charges.”

Cameron, dressed casually in light brown slacks and a light brown corduroy shirt, walked out of the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building on Harlow Street with Rodway after being released on bail. The two left together in a truck Rodway was driving.

The judge placed Cameron’s case on the June trial list to give his attorney the opportunity to sift through the “several large boxes” of discovery to be provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Rodway estimated it would take him at least 60 days to go through the evidence, which most likely includes images and e-mails from the seized computers.

Court documents do not indicate the number of computers seized from Cameron’s home. The search warrants that led to their seizure were filed in Kennebec County Superior Court and remain sealed.

If convicted, Cameron faces a minimum of five years but not more than 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Kravchuk set bail at $75,000 unsecured with conditions that he be released to the custody of his brother, Daniel Cameron, in Westland, Mich., surrender his passport, wear an electronic monitor and have limited use of the Internet. Conditions also call for Cameron’s Internet use to be monitored by the U.S. Probation and Pre-trial Services office in Michigan with special software to be installed on a computer at his brother’s home.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Malone, who is prosecuting the case, asked that Cameron be held without bail until his case is resolved. She argued that Cameron should be detained due to the serious nature of the charges, because the alleged victims in the case were minors and because the alleged conduct lasted more than a year.

Malone also said that the defendant posed a flight risk because he had traveled out of the country over the past several months and back and forth between Michigan and Maine on several occasions. She also said that “wiping software” appeared to have been used “to erase evidence” on the seized computers.

Rodway told the judge that Cameron left his wife and children and went to live with his brother at his home in suburban Detroit, Mich., about a year ago after his home computers were seized by Maine State Police in December 2007. The investigation into whether Cameron had downloaded child pornography triggered a possible inquiry by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, the defense attorney said, and Cameron moved to Michigan, his native state.

Cameron traveled to Germany and Japan on business just before Christmas, Rodway said. The former prosecutor is starting an online business selling watches manufactured in Germany over the Internet. They will be marketed by a Japanese firm, the defense attorney said. Cameron’s other trips out of the country had been driving through Canada on trips to Maine, according to Rodway.

Kravchuk found that the conditions worked out by probation officials in Maine and Michigan were sufficient to insure Rodway’s appearance in court and denied Malone’s motion.

Cameron was working as an assistant attorney general in Augusta for former Attorney General G. Steven Rowe when the investigation began in December 2007. He was placed on administrative leave with pay that month, according to Kate Simmons of the Maine Attorney General’s Office.

He was fired in April around the time the investigation became public, but for reasons unrelated to the investigation’s becoming public, Simmons said Tuesday.

Efforts Tuesday to reach Rowe, who now works at Dana and Verrill, a Portland law firm, were unsuccessful.

Cameron graduated in 1984 from Kalamazoo College in Michigan and earned his law degree at the University of Detroit School of Law, according to an article previously published in the Bangor Daily News. He worked as an assistant district attorney in Kennebec and Somerset counties under former District Attorney David Crook.

He went on to take a position as an assistant attorney general in the Maine Attorney General’s Office and in 2000 was tapped as the state’s drug prosecution coordinator, the news article said. In that role he coordinated the prosecution of drug cases and the work of five other assistant attorneys general assigned to district attorney’s offices in York, Cumberland, Androscoggin, Kennebec and Penobscot counties.

Cameron also litigated cases before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and defended the state in civil cases in federal court in Bangor and Portland.

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