Attorneys continue to wrangle over how a new prison sentence should be calculated for the state’s former top drug prosecutor, now convicted of child pornography and of fleeing while on bail, and have asked a judge for aid.

James M. Cameron, 51, formerly of Hallowell, remains behind bars as he awaits a new sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Maine.

An appeals court last November reversed convictions on six of the 13 charges, but upheld the remainder. The morning after that decision was announced, Cameron, who was free on bail, cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and fled his home in Rome.

He was picked up Dec. 2 by federal marshals in Albuquerque, N.M., and returned to Maine. He pleaded guilty in February to a contempt of court charge relating to his 18-day flight and sentencing was anticipated within two to five months.

Instead, the defense and prosecutor remain far apart in their positions on how the guideline sentence should be framed.

Cameron was sentenced to 16 years in prison on the original convictions. He has served about 20 months so far.

On Thursday, Cameron’s attorney, David Beneman of the federal defender’s office, filed a memo in U.S. District Court saying “unresolved factual and legal issues (require) determination by the court in calculating the correct advisory sentencing guideline range.”

Beneman said both he and the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Malone, need the range settled before they can argue over the appropriate sentence. An entry in the federal court docket shows the government has to file a sentencing memo by Sept. 13.

In the meantime, the defense argues that Cameron’s sentence should not be increased because he fled.

“There is not dispute that Cameron improperly removed his home monitoring bracelet, left Maine, and was arrested in New Mexico,” Beneman says in the memo. “Cameron admits this misconduct.

“However, the increase does not fit the facts of this case,” Beneman says. “Cameron did not escape from custody, or fail to appear for any scheduled proceeding.”

The defense memo continues, “Flight to avoid arrest is specifically listed as not supporting the obstruction increase.”

Beneman urges the judge to reject the consecutive sentence sought by the prosecutor, calling it “double punishment for the same conduct, flight.”

An earlier memo in aid of resentencing filed by Malone, asks the judge to do a number of things, including considering the underlying conduct in the vacated charges because they relate to Cameron handling child pornography images.

The First Circuit, “did not find that the defendant was factually innocent … it determined only that he should have been permitted to confront certain witnesses about evidence admitted against him,” Malone says.

Malone says that except for the conviction for Dec. 21, 2007, possession of child pornography (the day his Hallowell home was searched), Cameron’s convictions for receipt and transmission of child pornography images span June 12 to Aug. 11, 2007. She argues that the vacated counts show him transmitting child pornography beginning July 2006.

“At bottom, a defendant who for 14 months moves hundreds of child pornography images from his computer to secure storage areas on the Internet, using an ever-changing array of account names, in addition to swapping child pornography images over email and a chat network for two months, is qualitatively and quantitatively different from a defendant who only swaps images for two months.”

She points to a presentencing report noting that Cameron engaged in sexually explicit chats starting in 2006, “frequently posed as a teenage girl during these chats because it drew more attention,” received child pornography during the sessions and when he saw they were illegal, abandoned the profile he was using.

Malone also says one of the counts upheld included two images “depicting patently sadistic conduct,” which should be used to increase the sentence.

Cameron previously served as the chief drug crimes prosecutor in the Maine Office of the Attorney General, where he spent 18 years as an assistant attorney general.

He became the target of an investigation after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported that Yahoo! found multiple images of child pornography in an account belonging to Cameron’s wife.

Cameron was fired from his state job in April 2008 and indicted on the child pornography charges Feb. 11, 2009.

 

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

badams@centralmaine.com