Ex-governor candidate completes jail term for possession of images of child sexual abuse

ELLSWORTH, Maine (AP) — A wealthy attorney who nearly became Maine's governor was released from jail Thursday after completing his sentence for possessing thousands of images of child sexual abuse, officials said.

Eliot Cutler, 77, was sentenced last year to nine months in jail under a plea agreement but was released about a month-and-a-half early for good behavior, Hancock County Jail Administrator Timothy Richardson said.

The criminal case marked a dramatic fall for a man who had served as an aide to Sen. Edmund Muskie and was the top energy and environmental adviser to President Jimmy Carter before launching a powerful environmental law firm in Washington.

Cutler returned to Maine to run for governor twice as an independent. He narrowly lost — by less than 2 percentage points — to Republican Paul LePage in 2010 and lost again by a much larger margin in 2014.

The terms of probation prevent Cutler from possessing sexually explicit materials, require his online activities to be monitored and limit his ability to be around children. He also must register as a sexual offender for life.

Cutler didn’t respond to a text message Thursday. His lawyer said his sentence reduction was “typical” for good time.

Cutler was sentenced under a plea agreement in which he received a four-year term with all but nine months suspended. He could be ordered to complete his term in prison if he violates probation. While he was under the responsibility of Hancock County, Cutler actually served his time in the Piscataquis County Jail, 85 miles (136 kilometers) north of his home in Brooklin.