James Cameron, formerly top drug prosecutor for the state of Maine, is now a fugitive, having been convicted of child pornography charges
Maine’s former top drug prosecutor, James Cameron — who has been convicted on child pornography charges — on Wednesday cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and disappeared, and is being hunted by the U.S. Marshals Service.
Hours after he learned that his appeal of his child porn convictions had failed and he would likely go back to prison, Cameron, 50, went on the lam and was being sought by law enforcement nationwide, report Craig Cosby and Michael Shepherd of the Kennebec Journal.
The electronic monitoring bracelet was a required condition of his release pending his appeal of a conviction in August 2010 on 13 federal charges of transportation, receiving and possessing child pornography.
Cameron fled early Thursday morning, just hours after the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston upheld seven of his 13 convictions and gave the government the ability to retry Cameron on the other six charges.
The former drug prosecutor has 15 years remaining on his 16-year prison sentence.
Cameron was seen in Hallowell, Maine — where he lived before moving to Rome — driving a tan 1999 Audi A6, license plate 2333PL, according to U.S. Marshals. That car, which he owns, is missing.
Deputy Dean Knightly, who supervises the District of Maine for the U.S. Marshals Service, said Cameron didn’t leave a note, and there is no indication he harmed himself. Marshals haven’t heard of him contacting anyone since he fled, according to Knightly.
“We don’t know where he is, but we’re following up on leads anywhere and everywhere,” Deputy Knightly said.
U.S. Department of Justice
Cameron visited his ex-wife, Barbara Cameron, and their 17-year-old son on Wednesday afternoon in Hallowell, shortly after learning of the court’s decision, according to a declaration filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor seeking revocation of his bail.
He was “not doing well,” according to his ex-wife; Cameron told their son he was going back to prison, U.S. Probation Officer Mitchell Oswald wrote in the declaration.
Knightly said Barbara has been interviewed and said she didn’t know where he ex-husband went.
Cameron returned to his home in Rome around 8 p.m., according to the monitoring bracelet. Deputy Knightly said someone, whom he wouldn’t identify, saw Cameron in Rome that night.
The monitoring bracelet showed that Cameron left his home without authorization at 12:46 a.m. on Thursday. An hour later, Oswald called Cameron’s home number and his cellphone, and got no response. Another call between 7 and 8 a.m. also got no answer.
Probation officers and Maine State Police went to Cameron’s home around 10:30 a.m. Knightly said he found out around noon that Cameron had fled.
“Mr. Cameron and his vehicle were both gone,” Oswald wrote. “His cellphone was in the house. The laptop computer that Pretrial Services monitored as a condition of release was also gone.”
U.S. District Court Chief Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. issued a warrant for Cameron’s arrest that same day.
Cameron was chief drug crimes prosecutor in the Maine Attorney General’s Office, where he spent 18 years as an assistant attorney general.
He was investigated after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported that Yahoo! had found multiple images of child pornography in a Yahoo! account belonging to Cameron’s wife. He was fired from the Attorney General’s office in April 2008, and indicted on child porn charges on February 11, 2009.
On August 23, 2010, after a six-day non-jury trial in federal court in Portland, Cameron was convicted of 13 child porn offenses committed in 2006 and 2007. Judge Woodcock, who presided over the trial, sentenced Cameron to 16 years in prison on March 11, 2011.
Five months later, with the convictions under appeal, the First Circuit Court ruled that Cameron could be released on bail while his appeal was pending. Under the conditions of his release, he was ordered to submit to GPS monitoring, register with “all pertinent sex offender registries,” report to a probation officer, post an unsecured $75,000 bond, adhere to a curfew set by a supervising officer, and participate in Internet monitoring.
Cameron’s appeal contested the admissibility of evidence, but in an opinion released Wednesday by Circuit Judge Juan Torruella, a three-judge appeals panel ruled that Cameron’s indictment was sufficient, the trial venue in Maine was proper, and that Yahoo!’s searches of Cameron’s accounts for child porn did not violate the Fourth Amendment.
However, the court said, Cameron should have gotten the opportunity to cross-examine Yahoo! employees who prepared the child porn reports. The case was sent back to U.S. District Court in Maine for resentencing.
No decision has been made about whether to pursue a new trial, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Clark.