LaPlace drug dealer awaits prison term

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 17, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – A LaPlace man, who pled guilty to drug charges in return for a 25-year prison term, will remain unfettered until March, when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal renders its findings on the case.

James Cambre, 28, of 453 S. Emily St., pled guilty on Oct. 25, 2004, to possession with the intent to distribute marijuana and possession of 200-400 grams of cocaine.

The four-year case came under fire when Assistant District Attorney William O’Regan III offered the drug dealer a special plea arrangement known as the Crosby plea, plus stipulated (separate from the Crosby Plea) that Cambre could be released on bond during an appeal process sequestered to question a ruling made earlier in the case by state District Judge Mary Hotard Becnel.

According to the Crosby plea, Cambre will be allowed to drop his guilty plea if the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal reverses the earlier ruling. The appellate court decision is scheduled to be released on March 21.

Cambre’s third attorney filed a motion to suppress certain evidence – claiming the evidence was illegally seized.

Becnel denied the motion and Cambre’s lawyer appealed her decision.

If the appellate court reverses Becnel’s decision, Cambre will be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. If the decision is upheld, Cambre must serve 25 years in prison.

Until March, the previously convicted felon remains free on bond.

Cambre has pled guilty twice in the case and he has been released from prison twice.

Cambre pled guilty in an earlier plea-bargain.

Claiming his first lawyer misrepresented him in a plea deal, Cambre originally had the case overthrown and was freed from a 20-year prison sentence. The Court of Appeal told him he could enter a new plea.

After firing his second lawyer, Cambre proceeded to hire his present attorney.

Cambre was arrested in 1998 for stolen property and was placed on probation until the year 2000.

When Cambre was arrested for drugs on Jan. 1, 2000, the arrest violated his probation.

O’Regan said he offered the convicted felon a plea deal because he wanted to see the case over.

“I decided to compromise,” said O’Regan.

The A.D.A. said Cambre’s bond was posted by family members.

He said the family will stand to lose their money if Cambre jumps bond.

O’Regan was asked if Cambre would give up and serve his 25-year prison term, if he lost his appeal.

O’Regan said, “…nothing is certain.”