BANGOR, Maine — The state’s former top drug prosecutor will spend less time behind bars on child pornography charges than he would have if he hadn’t cut off his ankle bracelet and fled the state two years ago.
U.S. District Judge John Woodcock resentenced James M. Cameron on Wednesday to 13 years and 9 months on child pornography charges, half of which were previously overturned on appeal, and a consecutive two years for his flight.
His original sentence on the child pornography charges was 16 years.
In addition to prison time, Woodcock sentenced Cameron, 52, of Rome to six years of supervised release after he completes his incarceration. The judge also ordered Cameron to pay $2,500 in restitution for counseling to a victim, whose photos he viewed.
An emotional Cameron apologized to prosecutors who worked on the case, including former U.S. Attorney Paula Silsby. In an early motion to dismiss the indictment, Cameron accused Silsby, a Republican, of being politically motivated in her prosecution of him. Cameron worked in 2007, when his computers were seized from his home, for then Attorney General Steven Rowe, who ran for governor and lost in the Democratic primary.
“My deepest apologies of all go to the victims of child pornography,” he told Woodcock. “I have no excuse for my conduct because I knew the impact sexual abuse has on victims, and I do believe that child pornography re-victimizes the victims.”
He also told Woodcock that the judge was right and it was dangerous for him to be out on bail while his appeal was pending.
“I did you a personal wrong, and I apologize for it,” Cameron said. “I have no excuse for it.”
Woodcock denied Cameron bail while his appeal was pending, but the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled him.
Cameron’s attorney, Federal Public Defender David Beneman, recommended the defendant spend a total of 6½ years behind bars.
Benemen said Cameron should serve the five-year mandatory minimum sentence on the child pornography charges and an additional 18 months on the flight charge.
Beneman declined to speak to reporters after the sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Malone, who prosecuted the case, urged Woodcock, who originally sentenced Cameron to 16 years in federal prison, to impose a sentence of between 24 and 30 years. That is the guideline range the judge ruled in October he would use in fashioning a sentence.
Malone told the judge Wednesday that if he was considering a sentence below the guideline range, he should start at 16 years and go up from there.
Woodcock said shortly before imposing the sentence that he subtracted five years and 10 months from the bottom of the guideline range Wednesday just as he did nearly four years ago at the first sentencing. Cameron is required by law to serve his sentence on the contempt charge related to his flight consecutively to the other charges.
The judge said that why Cameron became addicted to child pornography “may remain one of those impenetrable mysteries.”
“The defendant’s depression [in 2006 and 2007] does not equate to what became a compulsive obsession to download photographs of children being raped by men,” Woodcock said.
Of Cameron’s flight from justice, the judge said: “The second crime does not speak well of the defendant’s character.”
Cameron faced between five and 20 years in prison on the child pornography charges and up to life in prison in addition to that on the contempt charge connected to his escape.
He had been held without bail since his arrest Dec. 2, 2012, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The time he has been incarcerated awaiting sentencing will be applied to his sentence.
Cameron, a former assistant attorney general who supervised drug prosecutors throughout the state, pleaded guilty in February 2013 to a contempt charge in connection with his flight. By pleading guilty, Cameron admitted he cut off his ankle bracelet Nov. 15, 2012, and fled the state less than 24 hours after he learned the appellate court in Boston upheld seven of the 13 counts on which he was convicted.
If Cameron had not fled, his guideline range would have been between 19 years and seven months and 24 years and five months, Woodcock determined in October. He also would not have faced an additional decade behind bars on the contempt charge.
On March 16, 2011, Woodcock sentenced Cameron to 16 years in prison after finding him guilty on 13 of 16 child pornography counts after a jury-waived trial the previous August. Then, his guideline range was between 21 years and 10 months and 27 years and three months, according to court documents. The statutory maximum also was 20 years.
Cameron immediately appealed his conviction and sentence, and he asked to be released while the appeal was pending.
Woodcock refused to release Cameron, but the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the judge. Cameron was released from a federal prison in Colorado in August 2011. He returned to Maine to live in a camp in Kennebec County.
The appellate court heard oral arguments in May 2012 and released its decision Nov. 14, 2012. Cameron cut off his ankle bracelet and fled the following day.
To reach a sexual assault advocate, call the Statewide Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Line at 800-871-7741, TTY 888-458-5599. This free and confidential 24-hour service is accessible from anywhere in Maine. Calls are automatically routed to the closest sexual violence service provider.
James Cameron case timeline
December 2007 — Maine State Police begin investigation.
Feb. 11, 2009 — Indicted by the federal grand jury on 16 counts child pornography.
Feb. 17, 2009 — Pleads not guilty; released on $75,000 unsecured bail on condition he live with brother in Michigan.
March 2010 — Returns to Maine to live with ex-wife.
June 2010 — Waives jury trial.
Aug. 23, 2010 — Found guilty on 13 counts; bail revoked pending sentencing.
March 10, 2011 — Sentenced to 16 years in federal prison; notice of appeal filed.
Aug. 9, 2011 — 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals orders release pending appeal.
May 8, 2012 — Oral arguments held before three-judge panel in Boston.
Nov. 14, 2012 — Appellate court throws out six counts in 2-1 decision.
Nov. 15, 2012 — Cuts ankle bracelet, disappears.
Nov. 19, 2012 — U.S. Marshals Service announces warrant issued.
Dec. 2, 2012 — Captured in Albuquerque, New Mexico, coming out of a convenience store restroom.
Jan. 8, 2013 — Pleads not guilty to one count of contempt of court in connection with flight from Maine.
Feb. 19, 2013 — Changes plea on contempt charge to guilty.
Dec. 17, 2014 — Re-sentenced to 13 years and nine months on the remaining child pornography counts and two consecutive years on the contempt charge.