An attorney for James M. Cameron, the state’s former top drug prosecutor who will be sentenced Wednesday on child pornography charges and for fleeing the state while on bail, says his client’s long struggle with depression and family problems led to his downfall.

David Beneman wrote in a sentencing memo that Cameron, 52, formerly of Hallowell and Rome, will speak directly to the judge at his sentencing hearing.

“The child pornography, abandonment of self-control, impulsivity, flight are all aspects of Jim’s demise,” Beneman wrote in the memo. “That he now admits his conduct and accepts full responsibility is important.”

Beneman says the sentence should be 78 months in prison: five years for the child pornography and 18 months for criminal contempt of court for cutting off his electronic monitoring bracelet and speeding south after an appeals court threw out some of his convictions and affirmed others.

The sentencing hearing is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

Cameron spent a year behind bars after being convicted in 2010 of 13 counts of child pornography before he was released on bail during part of his appeal to the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

He fled Maine in November 2012 and was arrested on a warrant Dec. 2, 2012, in New Mexico following a nationwide manhunt that lasted about two weeks.

He has been held since then apparently at one point in a Strafford, N.H., facility. There Beneman says in the sentencing memo, “Jim was attacked and suffered a broken shoulder … As a former drug prosecutor he is at higher risk of physical assault while incarcerated.”

Beneman refers to an order issued in October by U.S. District Court Chief Judge John A. Woodcock Jr., where Woodcock calculates an “advisory guideline range of 292 to 365 months” in prison.

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Fisk Malone, has previously requested a “guidelines sentence” for Cameron, which would be some 24 to 36 years.

Beneman lays out the history of sentencing in child pornography cases, many of them from Maine, and concludes that most of the defendants received a five-year prison term.

“There has been a nationwide change in thinking by federal judges in the appropriate sentence for child pornography cases like this one,” Beneman says in the memo. “The statutorily required five-year minimum mandatory is now the base line sentence for most cases with similar facts. To that, an additional eighteen months consecutive is appropriate for Jim’s flight from bail. A consecutive eighteen months represents a guideline sentence as to the contempt.”

He also says Cameron’s case lacks “aggravating facts that lead to higher than five-year sentences (which) include hands-on child sexual abuse; cases involving large numbers of images (approximately 5,000 or more); cases involving soliciting or contact with child.”

Beneman adds, “Cameron did not collect and catalog images. Cameron did not photograph or video himself engaged in sexual activity, nor did he engage in sexual conduct in front of others. Cameron has no history of sex with children and is not a pedophile.”

Malone’s “Memorandum in Aid of Sentencing,” filed in July 2013, says Cameron’s behavior deserves a longer sentence than imposed in other cases.

“At bottom, a defendant who for 14 months moves hundreds of child pornography pages 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 e-mail and a chat network for two months, is qualitatively and quantitatively different from a defendant who only swaps images for two months,” she wrote.

Cameron was sentenced to 16 years in prison on the original convictions for 13 counts of child pornography possession and transmission. The federal appeals court upheld seven of those.

Cameron 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 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. He was convicted by Woodcock following a nonjury trial in federal court in Portland in August 2010.

Cameron has spent about three years behind bars so far.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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