Former drug prosecutor pleads guilty to charge in connection with flight to New Mexico

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 19, 2013, at 9:40 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The state’s former top drug prosecutor, who was convicted of downloading child pornography, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to a charge related to his fleeing to New Mexico late last year.

James Cameron, 50, of Rome changed his plea after having pleaded not guilty Jan. 8 to one count of contempt of court.

Federal prosecutors refused after Tuesday’s hearing to discuss details of Cameron’s flight or where he might have been headed.

A sentencing date is not expected to be set for at least three months, Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Clark said outside the courthouse after Cameron changed his plea. Time is needed for an officer with U.S. Probation and Pre-trial Services to complete a detailed presentence report, the federal prosecutor said.

Clark also said that he did not know if U.S. District Judge John Woodcock would sentence Cameron on the contempt charge and resentence him on the child pornography charges at the same time or in separate hearings.

There is no plea agreement in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Malone told Woodcock.

Cameron will continue to be held without bail at the Stafford County Jail in Dover, N.H. It is one of several jails the U.S. Marshals Service in Maine uses to board prisoners because there is no federal detention facility in Maine.

Dressed in khaki-colored, jail-issued clothing, Cameron looked much older Tuesday than he did in March 2011 when Judge Woodcock sentenced him to 16 years in prison. Cameron’s hairline has further receded and there was much more gray in his hair than there was three years ago. He was cleanshaven Tuesday but a mug shot released by New Mexico officials after his capture showed Cameron sporting a full beard.

The defendant, whose feet were shackled and wrists handcuffed behind his back, was escorted into the courtroom by U.S. marshals. Three marshals, one more than is normally in the courtroom, and a federal court officer were in the courtroom during the 30-minute hearing.

Cameron was apprehended Dec. 2 in Albuquerque, N.M., after more than two weeks on the run. By pleading guilty, Cameron admitted that he cut off his ankle bracelet less than 24 hours after he learned the appellate court in Boston had upheld seven of the 13 counts on which he was convicted.

According to the prosecution version of events filed on the federal court system’s website, Cameron also admitted that he disconnected his laptop computer from the Internet monitoring device when he fled and took it with him to New Mexico. His bail conditions included wearing the ankle bracelet and using the monitoring software, according to court documents.

When asked by Woodcock at Tuesday’s hearing whether he had done all the things federal prosecutors had accused him of, Cameron replied, “I did, your honor.”

Federal prosecutors will not retry Cameron on the six counts set aside by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision, according to a previously published report.

On the contempt charge, Cameron faces up to life in the prison. On the remaining child pornography counts, he faces a minimum of five and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison on the receiving and transporting child pornography counts. On the possession of child pornography count, he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Clark said outside the courthouse after Cameron entered his guilty plea that Woodcock had the discretion to decide if Cameron should serve the contempt and child pornography sentences at the same time or consecutively.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/02/19/news/portland/ex-drug-prosecutor-to-plead-guilty-tuesday-to-charge-in-connection-with-flight-to-new-mexico/ printed on September 30, 2014