The state’s former top drug prosecutor is appealing a child pornography sentence that keeps him in a federal prison until the end of 2023.

James M. Cameron, 52, of Rome and formerly of Hallowell, was sentenced Dec. 17, 2014, to 189 months — or 15 3/4 years — in prison, with 24 months of that specifically for contempt of court for jumping bail and fleeing Maine for New Mexico. The remaining 165-month sentence is for Cameron’s convictions on seven charges involving possession, receipt and transmission of child pornography images.

He already has served about three years of the sentence.

Cameron’s attorney, David Beneman, filed notice of the appeal on Dec. 23 in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine. Appeals are heard in the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals.

Beneman previously had suggested a sentence of 78 months in prison: five years for the child pornography convictions and a consecutive 18 months for criminal contempt of court for Cameron’s cutting off his electronic monitoring bracelet and speeding south after an appeals court threw out some of his convictions and affirmed others.

Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. previously had issued an order saying he had calculated the guideline sentence at 24 to 30 years, and the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Fisk Malone had sought a guideline sentence.

This is the second appeal brought by Cameron in less than four years. The first time, the appeals court returned some rulings in his favor, overturning six of the original 13 convictions on the basis that they violated Cameron’s constitutional rights under the Sixth Amendment, which requires that in criminal proceedings, those accused of a crime have a right to cross-examine witnesses.

The case then was returned for resentencing to Woodcock, who presided at the bench trial. The government opted against another trial on the six overturned convictions and sought dismissal of those charges after the resentencing hearing.

In Cameron’s original sentence in March 2011 on 13 counts involving child pornography, he was ordered to serve 192 months in prison.

On Dec. 17, 2014, Woodcock shaved 27 months off that original term, then added two years for contempt of court for Cameron’s flight from Maine, which violated his post-conviction bail conditions.

At that hearing, Woodcock said Cameron “deliberately, consciously, willfully was in contempt of this court. He required as a consequence of his actions virtually a nationwide manhunt to track him down.” Woodcock said Cameron was found “because he kept checking his ATM to see if the $40,000 in checks he forged had gone through.” A sentence for conviction on that charge is to be consecutive to any other sentence.

At the recent sentencing hearing, Cameron admitted to the judge that he had committed the crimes. Before that, Cameron had maintained he was not guilty.

“I freely admit that late in 2006 and throughout 2007 at a difficult time in my life, I became addicted to child pornography,” he said.

At the same time, Cameron apologized to the victims of child pornography.

“I did what I did because I was selfish,” he said.

Cameron was an assistant attorney general in Maine from 1990 to 2008, handling drug prosecutions. He was indicted on the child pornography charges in 2009.

Twenty months lapsed between Cameron’s March 2011 notice of appeal and the ruling by the appeals court.

According to a federal Bureau of Prisons site, Cameron’s prospective release date from prison is Dec. 6, 2023. The site does not indicate where Cameron is being held, but Woodcock recommended incarceration at Englewood, the federal prison in Littleton, Colo., where Cameron already had spent some months under the previous sentence.

The federal Bureau of Prisons site doesn’t explain why Cameron’s anticipated release date fails to match the length of his sentence.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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