Maine Ex-Prosecutor Nabbed In New Mexico

cameronjamesWe previously discussed the bizarre case of James Cameron, 50, the former top drug prosecutor in Maine who cut off his electronic bracelet and fled after a ruling that upheld his conviction on child pornography charges. He spent 17 days on the run but was nabbed in Albuquerque on Monday and was ordered held without bail.

Cameron was arrested Sunday morning by U.S. marshals as he left a bathroom at a video and book store. When arrested, police found camping gear, including canteens and a sleeping bag. He had changed the plates on his tan Audi.

Here is how one of the lower court decisions describes the underlying facts:

On August 23, 2010, at the close of a six-day, jury-waived trial, the Court found James M. Cameron guilty of thirteen violations of federal criminal law against child pornography. Oral Ct. Verdict (Docket # 179). On September 4, 2010, Mr. Cameron moved separately for: (1) a new trial, (2) arrest of judgment as to Counts 12 and 13, and (3) reconsideration of his motion for acquittal. Defense Mot. for New Trial (Docket # 194) (Def.’s Mot for New Trial); Mot. for Arrest of J. as to Counts 12 & 13 on Lack of Jurisdiction Grounds (Docket # 195) (Def.’s Jurisdictional Mot.); Defense Mot. for Seeking Recon. of Disposition of Mot. for J. of Acquittal (Docket # 196) (Def.’s Mot. for Recon.). On September 15, 2010, the Government filed a consolidated response. Gov’t’s Opp’n to Def.’s Post-Trial Mots. (Docket # 200) (Gov’t’s Opp’n). On September 29, 2010, Mr. Cameron filed a consolidated reply. Consolidated Reply to the Gov’t’s Opp’n to Post-Trial Defense Mots. (Docket # 204) (Def.’s Reply).

B. The Government Investigation and Evidence of Images of Child Pornography

Before, during and now after trial, Mr. Cameron has vigorously asserted that the images of child pornography that were posted on the Yahoo! servers and which the Government traced to him were inadmissible. Mr. Cameron contends, first, that the images had been illegally seized, and second, that the Government failed to produce a proper authenticating witness.

On March 15, 2007, Yahoo!, an ISP, received customer complaints about the existence of images of child pornography associated with the screen name “lilhottyohh.” Yahoo! searched its servers for sites associated with that screen name and reported these images to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). In August 2007, after viewing the images, NCMEC referred the matter to the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit (MSPCCU), directing MSPCCU to images associated with the “lilhottyohh” screen name as well as to those associated with a second screen name, “lilhottee00000.” Later, NCMEC made a second referral concerning child pornography that Yahoo! had discovered in the photographs section of an account under the screen name “harddude0000.” Yahoo! records confirmed that these three screen names were traceable to an Internet Protocol (IP) address, which had been assigned to Mr. Cameron’s wife at a residence they shared in Hallowell, Maine.

On December 17, 2007, the Maine State Police executed a search warrant at Mr. Cameron’s residence and seized four computers. An analysis of the four computers revealed, among other things, that an eMachines computer at Mr. Cameron’s home had been used to access seventeen Yahoo! profiles, including variations of “lilhottee,” “harddude,” and other screen names. Based on this and other information, the Government served process on Yahoo!. 1 In compliance with the subpoena, Yahoo! produced images and discs associated with the identified screen names that contained child pornography. At trial, the Government sought to introduce these images of child pornography with evidence tying the Defendant to the screen names.

In his sentencing motion, Cameron argued for just a 60 month sentence:

Regarding the history and characteristics of the defendant, Mr. Cameron emphasizes his family background, his upbringing in Michigan, his education, and his employment as a prosecutor [*42] with the Somerset County District Attorney’s Office and the Maine Office of the Attorney General, including responsibility for oversight of all drug prosecutions. Id. at 87-89. Turning to the seriousness of the offense, Mr. Cameron admits the “depictions of child pornography are disturbing, inexcusable and unlawful.” Id. at 89. He attributes his descent into child pornography from six causes: 1) the progressive deterioration of death of his parents; 2) difficulties in caring for a third family member; 3) challenges within the Attorney General’s Office; 4) demands from a book that he was writing; 5) lifelong problems with obsessive-compulsive disorder; and, 6) a change of medication used to treat his obsessive-compulsive disorder. Id. Though he admits that “[a]ny involvement whatsoever with child pornography is intrinsically wrong”, he argues: 1) that he never had actual contact with minors; 2) that he never attempted to contact minors; 3) the ratio of child pornography to legitimate images “was very very low”; 4) that there is no evidence contraband was saved to create a collection; 5) that the child pornography was systematically deleted; 6) there is no evidence of wide-scale distribution; and, 7) that his child pornography activities occurred sporadically. Id. at 90-91. He believes that a 60 month sentence will promote respect for law and will allow for atonement and rehabilitation. Id. at 91.

(United States v. Cameron, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24878)

The district court however read his professional and educational history against him on sentencing: “Mr. Cameron’s position as a high law enforcement official is an aggravating factor. As the top drug prosecutor for the state of Maine, Mr. Cameron’s criminality casts an unwarranted shadow on the integrity of other public officials and encourages public cynicism. . . . Mr. Cameron is well educated and is unlikely to benefit from further vocational training.” He was sentenced to 192 months in prison, followed by ten years of supervised release. The sentence reflected the finding of the district court that “at least 300, but fewer than 600” images of child pornography.

The appellate decision below did raise a legitimate issue regarding the confrontation clause. Cameron was right that the trial court had violated his rights regarding the admissibility of evidence. However, while reversing six counts of conviction, the court held the violation to be harmless on seven counts. The harmless error doctrine has often been criticized as downplaying or ignoring the impact of improperly admitted evidence on the overall jury decision. Moreover, with the harsh child pornography sentencing, a reduction in counts is unlikely to amount in a significantly reduced sentence. Whatever the sentence, however, it appeared too much for Cameron to contemplate — particularly as the former chief drug prosecutor in the state who is likely to face many former defendants in prison.

Cameron visited his ex-wife and son shortly before fleeing in his 1999 Audi A6 with license plate number 233PL. With the ruling, he would have had to return to jail and Cameron had 15 years remaining of the original 16 year sentence.

He will now face charges for escape in addition to the pornography charges. In the end, I expect he is not likely to view the 17 days as worth it if paid for with an additional six months or year confinement.

Here is the opinion: 11-1275P-01A

Source: Press Herald as first seen on ABA Journal.

34 thoughts on “Maine Ex-Prosecutor Nabbed In New Mexico”

  1. Nick,

    I know so little but I do know what I feel. Much warmed by your kind words.
    I shall try to make my train of thought or my excerpt clearer. “Here” was where you meant it to be, it was diffuse: Where you ate Polish, where? Well the question was, could you indicate when you move from place to place in your thoughts and references. I of course am very bad at this.
    For ex:; when I say here, is here the blog, the USA, Sweden, the present in general or at some point in my life which I refer to. etc.

    Finished the central part of F & L on the campaign trail 72 last night after leaving here. He described his style, I’ll quote it for you later, as it feels quite comfortably like myself; roughly tangents, diversions, and lurid images.

    Guess will go do his bike story now to see the style emerging.
    Quite a phenomenon, much like myself in the permanent protest against authority mode. But of course much more intelligent and engaged in life. No apparent ego and social handicanps. And what a memory, in spite of the state of intoxication now or when the recalled happened.
    Analytical to max too.

    Please continue to be your own man. You shine so much better so.
    That is code of course. Hope you get it.
    Best regards.

  2. Blouise let’s not try to kid ourselves Cleveland is the biggest shit hole in the country and you well know it!!

  3. This is a hilarious manhunt going on right now. Anonymous broke the story, cnn 3 hours later, now Gawker:

    “If you haven’t been following the tale of John McAfee, the 67-year-old founder of the antivirus company McAfee, Inc., you’ve missed out on one of the weirder stories of the year. McAfee was living a self-exiled life in Belize keeping a harem of prostitutes and apparently experiment with drug manufacturing. Last month, his neighbor was murdered and police named him a person of interest. McAfee fled, and has since become a traveling media shitshow, keeping the world up to date about his life on the lam on his blog, taunting authorities and blabbing to just about anyone who would listen.”

  4. The child porn image obsession is certainly odd duck. We have an odd duck at our marina that interacts with the dogpack. It is difficult to even imagine where these guys get off on seeing child porn images. The same applies to the odd ducks which we call the pedophile priests. Why is it that a large number of priests are pedophiles? Is it the religion or is the religious sect a safe haven for these schmucks and so they flock there. Generally it is accepted for a preacher or priest to fleece a flock but sexual abuse of the minor ducks is so far out of humanoid behavior that this requires more examination. Perhaps it is inherited. If we started executing them before they had kids then it would not be passed on genetically. It is sure a far cry from a humpin dog.

  5. Gene, We are sympatico on green chile. I love it but it can give me agita. For me it’s the raw onions. I love onions, but raw onions kill me. If I get to know a restaurant that is easy on the onions for their green chile sauce I’ll go w/ it. However, I usually eat green chile sauce in a NM staple, green chile stew. For me. if onions are cooked, I have no problem. Plus, green chile stew is one of my favs!

  6. nick,

    I like green, it just doesn’t like me unless it is prepared a special way that most restaurants don’t do. If I have green I pretty much have to make it myself. Which is not really an issue. I very often make my own red just because I like to make it.

  7. “You got gangsters in power and lawbreakers making rules. When you gonna wake up…”
    Robert Zimmerman

  8. ID, Wait a minute, I just got back from watching a flick w/ my wife. “Here” means I’ve never met any of the commenters “here”. We go to the Robert Redford Sundance theatre in Madison, Wi. and they serve beer/wine. So, mea culpa not following your train of thought. We saw Argo, a good flick.

  9. ID, I think your question regarding, “where is here” I mean Terryville, Ct., where I grew up. “Eclectic” regarding Las Cruces simply meant it’s mostly a Mexican/Anglo blue collar town but the university adds another dynamic. It’s sometimes difficult to follow your train of thought. is not linear and you are another good example, which I love! Ciao, paisan.

  10. Nick,

    Where is here?
    “ID I’ve never met anyone here. On Polish food, we had many Eastern Europeans in my town, Polish being the largest group. I have eatern in Lithuanian, Ukranian, Slovak, households. IMHO, Polish is the best.”

    WTF do you mean by eclectic (choosing the best regardless of source, dogma…..)??? What are you selecting for what use? Idiomatic, I am not.

    How I envy the food sources in the USA, and not just NM red or other stuff, I mean the European imports. Chili peppar came from the new world, not Europe.

  11. ID, I’ve been to Las Cruces 4 times. New Mexico State University gives it a more eclectic feel to it than many SW cities close to the border..ala Tucson.

  12. Blouise, I think we know each other well enough now that we can just bust balls and unless someone believes it was out of line we’ll say it.

    ID I’ve never met anyone here. On Polish food, we had many Eastern Europeans in my town, Polish being the largest group. I have eatern in Lithuanian, Ukranian, Slovak, households. IMHO, Polish is the best.

    junctionshamus, Of course we would tend to think alike.

  13. Darn, junctionshamus, I saw the introduction and hoped no one had used the BB line yet. Nice work. Good phonetics, too.

  14. Nick,

    Have you been in Las Cruces. I worked there a while, doing stuff for NASA outside of town, not far from the ridge hiding White Sands.

    Beautiful garlic ribeye at an underground restaurant.

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