PORTLAND, Maine — Less than 12 hours after a federal appeals court upheld seven of his 13 convictions on possession of child pornography counts, former drug prosecutor James Cameron cut off his ankle bracelet and disappeared last week.
The U.S. Marshals Service issued an arrest warrant for Cameron, 50, formerly of Hallowell, who was convicted of possession of child pornography in August 2010 in U.S. District Court in Bangor.
Cameron, who was free on bail pending the outcome of his appeal to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, cut off his court-ordered electronic monitor in the early morning hours of Thursday, Nov. 15, and disappeared, according to a press release issued by the Marshals Service on Monday.
The former drug prosecutor learned on the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 14, that the appellate court had set aside six of his 13 convictions but upheld the rest, according to a declaration of U.S. Probation Officer Mitchell Oswald that was filed in support of the motion to revoke Cameron’s bail and issue the warrant for his arrest.
Before disappearing, Cameron visited his ex-wife and son in Hallowell. She told Bryce Turgeon, the probation officer who supervised Cameron, that her ex-husband was “not doing well” and had told their son he would be returning to prison, the declaration said.
The declaration, motion and warrant were sealed until shortly after noon Monday, according to information on the federal court’s electronic case filing system.
The declaration did not say when Cameron left his home in Maine, but it said the location-monitoring device indicated he had arrived home at 8:05 p.m. Nov. 14. At 12:46 a.m. Nov. 15, the device indicated that Cameron left the residence without permission from his probation officer, according to the declaration. About 1:30 a.m., the device attempted to connect with Cameron’s ankle bracelet to verify he was home but was unable to do so.
Oswald tried to reach Cameron between 7 and 8 a.m. Nov. 15 on his cellphone and landline but got no answer. About 10:30 a.m. that day, Turgeon went to Cameron’s home, according to the court documents.
“Defendant and his vehicle were both gone,” said the motion seeking the warrant. “His cellphone was in the house. The laptop computer that [Turgeon] monitored as a condition of release was also gone.”
Cameron had not used the laptop since 8:33 p.m. Nov. 14, the motion said.
Oswald said in his declaration that the probation office had no previous problems with Cameron’s compliance with his location monitoring. He showed up for all his court appearances and reported as directed to supervising probation officers, according to court documents.
Court documents do not say where Cameron has been living. In February 2010, Cameron divorced his wife, according to court documents filed in his criminal case. She was awarded the house in Hallowell and he was awarded a camp in Rome in the Belgrade Lakes region.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark declined Monday to say where Cameron has been living while his appeal has been pending.
Cameron was last seen in Hallowell driving a tan 1999 Audi A6, with Maine license plate 2333 PL, according to the Marshals Service.
The U.S. marshal for Maine, Noel March, said Monday in a telephone interview that Cameron does not “pose a risk to anyone’s safety or the safety of our communities. We are uncertain of his intentions or state of mind.”
On March 10, 2011, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock sentenced Cameron to 16 years in federal prison after finding him guilty the previous August following a jury-waived trial. Cameron had been held without bail since being convicted.
Woodcock denied several motions asking that Cameron be released on bail pending the outcome of his appeal. On Aug. 9, 2011, the appellate court overruled Woodcock and ordered Cameron released from the federal prison in Littleton, Colo.
His $75,000 unsecured bail, set at his arraignment in February 2009 over the objection of the U.S. attorney’s office, remained in place. Cameron was ordered to surrender his passport and to wear the electronic monitoring bracelet while awaiting the appellate court’s decision.
Unsecured bail means that a defendant does not have to post cash or property at the time bail is imposed. A defendant would only have to post the money or surety if bail were revoked by a judge.
It was unclear Monday whether Cameron would be ordered to come up with $75,000 if apprehended and found to have violated his bail conditions. He has qualified for a court-appointed attorney since March 2010 due to his limited income. It could not be determined if his camp property could be seized because Cameron jumped bail.
Anyone with information on Cameron’s whereabouts if asked to contact the Marshals Service office in Portland at 780-3355 or the the service’s national headquarters at 1-877-WANTED2.