Ex-prosecutor convicted in child porn case pleads not guilty to new charge, faces possible life in prison

Posted Jan. 08, 2013, at 1:38 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 08, 2013, at 5:01 p.m.
James Cameron
U.S. Marshals Service
James Cameron

PORTLAND, Maine — A federal judge told embattled former state drug prosecutor James Cameron on Tuesday he could face life in prison for the charge of criminal contempt of court arising from his alleged escape and disappearance while awaiting the resolution of a child pornography case against him.

Cameron entered a not guilty plea to the new charge during his first court appearance in Maine since being apprehended in New Mexico on Dec. 2, 2012. He allegedly had been on the run for more than two weeks after breaking his ankle bracelet tracker, disabling the Internet monitoring software installed on his computer and fleeing the supervision of his probation officer in Maine.

U.S. District Court Judge John Woodcock also said Tuesday federal prosecutors have informed him they will not pursue the six charges remanded back to the lower court by the appeals court, leaving seven current convictions for which Cameron must be sentenced.

Cameron, 50, of Rome was led into the federal courtroom in Portland with his wrists and ankles shackled. He was clean-shaven and wearing tan jail-issued clothing that consisted of a short-sleeved shirt and long pants. The shirt bore the words “Stafford County DOC” in bold block letters reflecting the New Hampshire jail where the U.S. Marshal Service has been holding Cameron because of the lack of a federal detention facility in Maine.

Judge Woodcock reviewed the status of the two cases against Cameron, who still faces sentencing on convictions on seven counts related to a child pornography case. That number had dropped from 16 initial counts after federal prosecutors agreed to drop one charge, Woodcock found him not guilty on two others, and the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated convictions on six other counts.

Woodcock also said Tuesday he will hold off on sentencing in the child pornography case until the second case against Cameron — criminal contempt of court — has been resolved.

The judge said Cameron will face trial in that case on Feb. 5 in U.S. District Court in Bangor after the former top state drug prosecutor entered a not guilty plea Tuesday to the new charge.

“There is no statutory maximum [for criminal contempt of court], which means that the maximum sentence could be lifetime incarceration on that charge alone,” Woodcock told Cameron on Tuesday.

The judge also approved Cameron’s request for a court-appointed attorney, and officially named federal public defender David Beneman of Portland to the post.

Cameron last week waived his right to a bail hearing and agreed to be detained until his case is resolved.

Tuesday’s hearing began nearly 70 minutes later than its originally scheduled 11 a.m. start time but lasted fewer than 15 minutes once under way.

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