November 21, 2012

Feds search Cameron's former home, still no trace of convicted child porn offender

Agents say former prosecutor complied fully with release conditions until Wednesday, call all electronic monitoring conditions 'high risk'

US Marshals search Cameron home

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

HALLOWELL -- Federal authorities on Tuesday searched the home of Barbara Cameron, as part of a nationwide manhunt for her ex-husband, James Cameron.

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U.S. Marshals Service investigators search the residence of Barbara Cameron, the ex-wife of fugitive James Cameron, Tuesday afternoon in Hallowell. Authorities on Tuesday continued to hunt for Cameron, Maine’s former top drug prosecutor, who cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and fled on Thuesday, after learning his appeal of child pornography convictions had partially failed.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

Cameron

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"We're still working leads," said Dean Knightly, supervisory deputy U.S. Marshal District of Maine, late Tuesday as at least 10 officers from local and federal agencies searched the house and garage.

Knightly called the search part of a routine investigation. U.S. marshals had left the house about 4 p.m. Tuesday.

James Cameron, 50, had been free on bail pending a ruling in his appeal of federal child pornography charges. That ruling, which upheld seven of his convictions and vacated six others, was issued a week ago. The state's former top drug prosecutor was facing 15 years in federal prison -- the remainder of a 16-year sentence imposed in March 2011.

After the ruling, Cameron stopped by his ex-wife's home on Greenville Street and told his son he was going back to jail, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

Then he went to his rural home in Rome. By early Thursday he had cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and fled, taking his car and his laptop, but not his cellphone.

Federal marshals got an alert from the alarm company at 1:47 a.m. Thursday that Cameron left the Rome house without authorization. They tried to call him; he didn't answer. They tried again between 7 or 8 a.m.

When they went to his home at 10:30 a.m. -- a full eight hours after being tipped off that something was amiss -- Cameron was long gone.

Authorities said Tuesday they spent the time between when the alarm sounded and the visit to his house determining whether Cameron had violated his bail conditions.

The conclusion that U.S. Probation officials waited to check on Cameron "is not really accurate," said Donald Clark, assistant U.S. attorney, Tuesday. "From the moment they were aware he was missing, they were attempting to contact him and then locate him."

The U.S. Marshals Service got a warrant for Cameron's arrest later Thursday and spent some days searching for him before going public with the manhunt Monday afternoon.

Authorities have said they believed Cameron was driving his car, a tan Audi A6.

On July 2, Cameron crashed his BMW motorcycle in Hallowell. Knightly said Tuesday he didn't know that Cameron owned a motorcycle but other agents might know where it is. He said the Audi is the only vehicle unaccounted for.

Law enforcement authorities across the country have been told to look for Cameron. In Maine, six agents from the U.S. Marshals Service, the Maine Violent Offender Task Force and local law enforcement are dedicated to the search, Knightly said.

Cameron's decision to cut the bracelet hours after finding out his appeal was denied looks like it was made in panic, said Tracey Horton, a professor of forensic psychology and criminal justice at Thomas College in Waterville. She said that going to prison can be particularly frightening for a former prosecutor.

"It's probably a pretty impulsive, not-very-planned-out thing," she said. "You don't necessarily know where you're going to go or how you're going to evade capture."

Monitoring mandate

Cameron's whereabouts were to be monitored electronically and he was required to have a land line at his home to do so, under a court order setting conditions for release.

Karen-Lee Moody, chief of U.S. Probation & Pretrial Services, wouldn't talk specifically about Cameron Tuesday. However, she said many things can trigger an alert, her records show only one other person in the last three years cut off an electronic monitoring bracelet.

"Any time we get an alert, we have to make sure it's for real," Moody said.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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The home of James Cameron in Echo Valley Estates in Rome.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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A U.S. Marshals Service investigator searches the garage at the residence of Barbara Cameron, the ex-wife of fugitive James Cameron, Tuesday in Hallowell. Authorities are continuing to hunt for Maine’s former top drug prosecutor.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

The U.S. Marshals Service wanted poster for James Cameron.

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