December 3, 2012

Ex-Maine prosecutor held without bail at N.M. jail

James Cameron, convicted on child-porn charges, could be on his way back to the state as early as Tuesday after a court appearance.

By Michael Shepherd mshepherd@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

A day after his 17 days on the run ended in New Mexico, James Cameron appeared before a federal judge in Albuquerque on Monday and was ordered held without bail.

Cameron, a former Maine drug prosecutor who was convicted on child pornography charges in August 2010, could be on his way back to Maine as early as Tuesday, after a court hearing.

He appeared before Magistrate Judge Robert Hayes Scott on Monday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque. He was arrested Sunday morning by U.S. marshals as he left a bathroom at a video and book store.

Noel March, the U.S. marshal for Maine, said Cameron surrendered without incident and was charged with violating the conditions of his release.

Cameron was free on bail while he appealed his conviction on 13 child pornography charges when he fled from his home in Rome, Maine, on Nov. 15.

James Badway, a deputy U.S. marshal in New Mexico, said in an email Monday that when Cameron was caught Sunday morning, he "didn't say or do anything other than what we asked of him."

Cameron was held at the Sandoval County Detention Center in Bernalillo, N.M., on Sunday. An official at the jail said he couldn't discuss what Cameron had with him at the time of his booking because federal officials have put a hold on releasing information.

When Cameron was arrested, authorities found camping gear, including canteens and a sleeping bag, in his tan Audi, Badway said. The car was seized by the local sheriff's office. March said the license plates had been changed from the originals.

Badway said marshals didn't ask Cameron why he had the camping equipment or where he had stayed during his 17 days as a fugitive. March has refused to discuss the case in detail and didn't return calls Monday.

Cameron cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and fled from Maine in his car, taking only his laptop computer. He fled hours after learning that seven of the 13 charges against him had been upheld in the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

Records from Monday's court hearing say it lasted three minutes. Cameron requested a court-appointed attorney and was ordered held without bail, as federal prosecutors had recommended, pending Tuesday's hearing.

Records show that Scott, the judge, appointed Federal Public Defender Stephen P. McCue to represent Cameron. An identity hearing is set for Tuesday morning in Albuquerque.

At an identity hearing, the government must show a judge an arrest warrant and proof of the identity of the person charged with a bail violation in order for the accused to be transferred to the district issuing the warrant, said Donald Clark, an assistant U.S. attorney in Portland.

After that hearing, Cameron is expected to be brought to Maine and appear before Judge John Woodcock, who can revoke Cameron's bail if he finds probable cause that Cameron violated bail conditions.

Clark said he expects Tuesday's hearing to be Cameron's last in New Mexico, but he had no estimated time for Cameron's return. He said marshals will be responsible for getting Cameron back to Maine.

The investigation into his flight could lead to more charges, Clark said Sunday. On Monday, he said he couldn't publicize any information on upcoming charges.

Before Cameron fled, he visited his ex-wife, Barbara Cameron, at her home on Hallowell on Nov. 14, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor. He told his son that he was going back to prison. He had 15 years remaining on a 16-year sentence.

Marshals later searched the home, finding no sign that Cameron was hiding there.

Thomas Santaguida, a former chief of the Maine Warden Service who has an investigation firm in Brunswick, said the location of Cameron's arrest, about 200 miles from the Mexico border, didn't surprise him.

Santaguida said he thought Cameron was headed for Mexico -- "otherwise, why would you go to New Mexico?"

"There's a decent number of people in Mexico who will provide all kinds of underground services," he said. "You can basically get what you want in Mexico for money."

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 621-5632 or at:

mshepherd@mainetoday.com

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