National Roundup

Ex-prosecutor disappears after failed appeal

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine’s former top drug prosecutor has disappeared following a federal appeals court decision upholding his conviction on seven counts of child pornography, the U.S. Marshals Service said Monday.
James Cameron, 50, cut off his court-ordered electronic monitoring ankle bracelet and disappeared around midnight on Nov. 14, the same day the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston upheld convictions on seven counts of sending, receiving and possessing child pornography while vacating convictions on six counts, said Dean Knightly, deputy U.S. marshal for Maine.
Cameron was last seen leaving a friend’s house in Hallowell while driving a 1999 Audi A6 with license plate number 233PL, Knightly said. Authorities are now unsure of his whereabouts.
“We are following leads in state and out of state and at various locations around the country,” Knightly said.
Cameron served as an assistant attorney general in Augusta until the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit began investigating him in 2008. He was convicted on the charges in 2010 and sentenced the following year to 16 years in prison.
A federal appeals court in August 2011 ordered that Cameron be freed on unsecured bail pending his appeal. In its decision last week to uphold some of the convictions and vacate others, the appeals ordered Cameron’s case back to U.S. District Court in Maine for resentencing.
The U.S. attorney’s office filed a motion the following day to revoke Cameron’s bail, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark.

U.S. court orders review of 1st of Miss. drug cases

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The first of five Mississippi drug cases have been returned to a federal judge for resentencing under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The drug cases all came out of the U.S. District Court in North Mississippi since 2010.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this past week returned the case of Willie Lee Fields to the north Mississippi court. Fields was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute in 2010.
Four other Mississippi cases are pending before the 5th Circuit. They are:
— James Hicks was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of distributing 247.2 grams of cocaine base in 2010.
— Samuel Pettis was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base in 2010.
— Larry Shoumaker was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base in 2010.
— Desmond Burnett was sentenced to five years on charges of possession with intent to distribute more than five grams of cocaine base.
The nation’s high court ruled in June that people who committed crack cocaine crimes before more lenient penalties took effect and received their prison sentence afterward should benefit from the new rules.
The ruling came in an Illinois case in which Corey A. Hill and Edward Dorsey were arrested in 2007 and 2008 for selling crack cocaine and faced mandatory 10-year sentences in Illinois.
But they weren’t sentenced until after the Fair Sentencing Act went into effect in August 2010. That law reduces the difference between sentences for crimes committed by crack cocaine and powder cocaine users.
The Supreme Court said the courts should have used the new law to sentence the two men.

Animal protection official fights cruelty charges

LITCHFIELD, Conn. (AP) — The head of an animal rescue group was arrested on 62 counts of animal cruelty in a dispute involving a shelter being built in Bethlehem.
Town officials were seeking an injunction to maintain custody of the seized dogs, to order Frederick Acker of Monroe to pay the state maximum $15 per dog per day for care and feeding, and to prevent Acker from owning, possessing or controlling any animal.
Bethlehem Animal Control Officer Judy Umstead said she warned Acker about the conditions she found at the barn, including dogs who were in filthy cages too small to turn around and without food or water.
A phone number for Acker could not be found, but he told the Republican American as he was arrested on Monday, “This is a grave injustice.”
His lawyer, Alice McQuaid, did not immediately return a message seeking comment
Acker said he will fight Bethlehem over custody of the dogs seized in a raid of the shelter on Nov. 8.
Umstead said she learned of the barn Acker is renting and used as a shelter after getting a report about a dog that escaped. She said she found the dog by the side of the road, likely killed by a car.
She testified in Superior Court that the temperature in the barn was 30 degrees on the day of the raid.
The dogs have since been relocated and are now “nice and warm and happy,” she said.

Court: Man can switch name after sex change

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals says a man who has completed a sex change should be allowed to change his name as well, rejecting the idea that men should have men’s names and women should have women’s names.
The three-judge panel said Tuesday that Steven Charles Harvey was not attempting to deceive anyone by asking to be known as Christie Ann Harvey. Oklahoma County District Judge Bill Graves had ruled against Harvey, noting that gender-reassignment surgery didn’t change Harvey’s DNA.
The panel said Graves committed a “clear error” by rejecting the name change. In the unanimous ruling, it said the law does not require people to have gender-specific names and said there are several names that are traditionally used by both men and women.

Prosecutor adds 4th charge in gay marriage case

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A prosecutor has added a fourth criminal charge against an Iowa court official accused of filing false documents to help a same-sex couple from Florida obtain a marriage license.
A trial information filed this month adds a count of tampering with records against Grundy County Deputy Clerk Brigitte Van Nice. The document also charges Van Nice with two counts of forgery and one count of perjury, the charges announced when she was arrested last month.
Van Nice is accused of filing documents claiming she had officiated the Florida couple’s Valentine’s Day wedding in Iowa. Investigators say the ceremony didn’t take place and Van Nice faked the signatures of two people she claimed were witnesses.e