Ex-prosecutor sentenced 16 years for child porn

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BANGOR — Maine’s former top drug prosecutor who fled the state and set off a nationwide manhunt after being convicted of child pornography charges was sentenced Wednesday to nearly 16 years in prison.

James Cameron apologized and said there’s no excuse for his conduct especially since he understood how it affects child victims, having served as an assistant attorney general for 18 years before being fired in 2008.

“I am doubly ashamed of my actions because I knew,” said Cameron, who wore a tan jumpsuit and a chain around his ankles during the hearing before Chief Judge John Woodcock at the U.S. District Court in Bangor. “I cannot express the shame that I feel.”

Cameron was sentenced to 15 years and nine months, and given credit for about three years he has already spent behind bars. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he could have gotten more than 30 years, which the prosecutors asked the judge to impose. Cameron’s lawyer sought a 6 ½ year prison term.

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Cameron, who once oversaw Maine’s drug prosecutions, was convicted in 2010 of 13 counts of child pornography and sentenced to 16 years in prison. A year later, a federal appeals court ordered that he be freed on bail pending his appeal.

Hours after a federal appeals court upheld his conviction on seven of the 13 charges and sent the case back to federal court for resentencing, Cameron cut off his electronic monitoring ankle bracelet and fled the state in November 2012. Cameron evaded capture for nearly three weeks before he was arrested at a convenience store in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Cameron’s attorney, David Beneman, said in court documents that Cameron had become depressed several years ago amid family concerns, including his son’s diagnosis with autism and his parents’ deaths. In seeking the lesser sentence, Beneman argued Wednesday that Cameron had no prior criminal history and accepted responsibility for his actions.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Malone said Cameron committed some of the crimes at home while he had claimed to be working and was getting paid by the state. She said he showed a “flagrant unwillingness to accept responsibility,” even trying to blame the images on one of his computers on his autistic son.

Cameron, who is currently being held at the Strafford County jail in New Hampshire, requested he be sent to the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado. He told the judge that jail has been therapeutic for him and said he has the “capacity and desire to change.”

“I can see myself in the future as a much better person than I have ever been before,” he said.

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