Black Massacre: – The Federal Pilloring of Catherine Greig

(1) CollossusBob wrote to me the other day a well thought out comment that brings up some issues for our consideration. I enjoy comments like his because it lets me pause and think through an issue in a more thorough manner.

He suggests Boston U. S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz had to go after Catherine Greig because some might wonder why she did not investigate how it was that Bulger could be on the lam for so long. He noted some suspect the FBI may have had a hand in that and she would have evidence of it either having seen some contacts or Whitey may have told her about them.

The suggestion Ortiz would be interested in learning from Greig if there was any FBI involvement in Whitey’s ability to stay free for 16 years is not something I thought about. I’d say to it that the actions of the Boston U.S. attorney’s office in the matter would make that an unlikely happening. After FBI Agent John Connolly was convicted we were told by the then Boston U.S. Attorney and the prosecutor of Connolly, John Durham, that more investigations would be done and his conviction was not the end of the matter. We would come to find out that they actually put the matter to bed at that time and nothing else was done. It was sufficient for the DOJ and FBI to use the “rouge agent” defense and pin the whole mess on John Connolly and walk away from the affair.

That would suggest to me a great unwillingness to do anything to investigate the FBI’s involvement in Whitey’s ability to maintain his years of freedom. There is also no sign that any FBI agents have been brought into a grand jury to investigate their actions during the time of Whitey’s flight. If the DOJ was interested in the matter then John Connolly after his conviction should have been brought in along with Morris, Ring and others. None of that was done. At this point having Greig testify that any specific agent was involved would not advance any legitimate purpose. It would be met with a denial by the agent, any agent interested in helping Whitey would have long retired, and it would be far beyond any statute of limitations. I do not see that as a motive.

He then went on to wonder why Greig won’t testify. He correctly notes she cannot harm Whitey no matter what she says since his situation will not get better or worse than it is now. He figured Whitey would tell her to go ahead and talk since she cannot harm him. I understand they can write to each other. Whitey and she would know there is nothing she can do to hurt him personally. If that were the only thing involved I suspect she would not be clamming up.

He says if she is not talking just to show her disdain for the prosecutors then she is really doing herself a disservice. She will end up spending many more years in jail just to make that statement and he suggests it is not worth it and would expect her family and friends to tell her that.

I agree with that. But I do keep in mind the old adage that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” There are some people who are so angry that any appeal to logic is useless. But that leaves out the idea that the prosecutors are looking to do more than just harass her. They want something from her.

Finally Bob notes that she may be protecting some others. If that is the case he says then the people she could implicate are willing to let her stay in jail to protect themselves. That’s true. Human nature is such that few others will throw themselves in a fire to save someone else. No one will come forward to help Catherine if it means implicating himself.

My take on the matter is the federal prosecutors believe Greig has information on how contact was maintained with those back home while they were on their flight. It might have been over the telephone through friends or neighbors who were just doing favors; or it may have been someone from her or Whitey’s family who made direct contact. The prosecutors may also seek to determine if she knows where any of Whitey’s assets are hidden.

Greig’s problem is she is being asked to betray those who may have rendered help some of whom may hold responsible positions or have lived upstanding  lives except for passing on a message. It is also that she opens herself up to perjury charges for anything she wrongly states that may have happened ten, fifteen or twenty years ago. Once she agrees to talk there is no end to the type of questions that she will be asked. Nor is there any way she will benefit from talking but can suffer great humiliation by having turned on those who helped her.

This happening is so unusual that Bob’s questions show us only the surface of what is going on. Have you ever heard of a Mafia figure or major drug dealer being brought back in after a conviction and sentence to prison being forced to testify about his associates?  This is really something quite unusual which seems to be beyond the normal boundaries. It is a small peek into the enormous unrestrained power of a federal prosecutor to intimidate and harass people out of favor.

11 thoughts on “Black Massacre: – The Federal Pilloring of Catherine Greig

  1. I agree with Matt that Grieg may have good reasons not to want to testify–that she would be opening herself up to lots of new questions, possible perjury charges, and that she might not want to betray people to the feds. And if she is protecting anyone, it’s obvious that the person would be reluctant to subject him or herself to charges in order to save Grieg.
    All the more reason for the prosecutors to raise the stakes.
    I don’t completely agree with Matt’s contention that former FBI agents are beyond reach because of the statute of limitations. There very well could be other, later charges involved, including, theoretically, the same type of perjury charges that Grieg theoretically faces.
    Even if Grieg’s testimony resulted in nothing more than a report explaining how Bulger evaded capture, that would be a feather in the cap of the prosecutor who produced it.
    I don’t think the prosecutors are being nice to Catherine Grieg, but that’s not their job.

    1. I think eight years in the slammer is more than enough punishment for Catherine Greig. Should she be kept in prison to put a “feather” in the cap of a prosecutor? I don’t think so. I want law enforcement from prosecutors on the public payroll, not background research. The “feather” can go to a historian. I’m sure this woman spoke with members of her own family during her 16 years on the run with Bulger, and she may be fearful they’ll be labeled “helpers” subject to arrest and imprisonment. All the more reason to be a standup gal, which she is. Time for the government to move on. Let Greig serve out her time in peace.

      1. Dan, I agree that there is a lot of pressure on Greig to be a “standup gal”. It reminds me of those “stop snitchin'” campaigns. If Greig were to testify against people who aided Bulger during his flight from justice, she would have to face the possibility that she would be ostracized by some of the people who praise her now.
        I also agree that at some point the prosecution should move on, but I can’t say whether that point has been reached. Compared to John Martorano she got a bad deal, but pretty much everyone in prison today got a worse deal than John Martorano. A better comparison might be to the bunch of college kids who ended up in jail for “aiding” D.Tsarnaev. None of them had any idea that Tsarnaev was a terrorist until after the crime. They made bad spur-of-the-moment decisions that could have affected the investigation, but mostly didn’t have any real consequences.
        Greig, by contrast, went into this with her eyes open, and acted with deliberation over a period of years, while Bulger’s victims and the ones close to them were denied justice.
        If she is protecting people who broke the law by contacting Bulger, there are two ways she can be saved from more jail time. The government can move on or the people she is protecting can man up

        1. Bob:

          Keep in mind when Greig left with Whitey she had no idea he had been accused of any murders. No one had done it in 1995. She was running off with a guy who she thought was indicted with racketeering for running his gaming operations.

          If she was in contact with members of her family why would she want to put them in difficulty. Isn’t it enough she be imprisoned than causing those who tried to help her to also meet her fate. No one is going to “man up” especially seeing the horrendous punishments imposed in federal court for people with no records. We do have a constitutional right not to be subject to cruel and unusual punishment; in the context of Greig’s non violent crime given the knowledge she would have possessed when she left with him her sentence of 8 years is clearly that when you compare it to Mafia members sentences and murderer sentences of much less time.

          1. Matt, I don’t know what was in Grieg’s mind when she left with Bulger, but I’m not sure you know either. Your assertion is not entirely implausible, given the deference the media gave to Bulger back in the ’80’s.
            You are absolutely right that the people she may have protected (assuming she did) are in an uncomfortable place. Although we should keep in mind that the late Richard Schneiderhan was treated pretty well, by all accounts, including yours.
            My point is simply that there may be other factors keeping Grieg in jail, besides the zeal of the prosecutors.

            1. Bob:

              True, I have no idea of what Greig thought. All I can say is that because no one had accused Whitey of any murders at the time he fled with her that it is unlikely she would have been running off with a guy she thought was a murderer.

              As for Schneiderhan, he got a better pass than almost everyone else even though he did as much if not more damage than Connolly and Morris combined. That was because he was being investigated by fellow staties especially Tom Foley who bent over backwards to help him.

              Greig is in prison because she is doing the unconscionable sentence. When she gets more years added on it will be because of her own fault because as they say she has the keys to her prison cell which is cooperating with the prosecutors. I’d have to guess she has some pretty damning information which could really hurt others; if she didn’t it makes no sense for he to fight back. You are right to suggest that I have no idea what that is or the reason why she continues to keep her silence.

  2. Very interesting article . Ever since I watched Black Mass and the CCN doc ‘USA v. Bulger’ I have been fascinated with this whole thing.

    And this whole thing REEKS! . The prosecutors go after Greig and Connolly as hard
    as they can but the let the actual killers walk on the street?!! WTF?!

    As for Greig, I thought the 8 years was pretty harsh to begin with. I am very curius to know wht she is apparently hiding. Dont know if he ever would but if he can Whitey should write her a letter telling her to get herself out of this mess- that he put her in.

  3. Wyshak isn’t really looking for money when he goes after Grieg. He already knows there is no Whitey money. Wyshak already exhausted that search more than a decade ago.

    Chapter 1 of the fugitive apprehension textbook says the first order of biz is find and forfeit all assets the fugitive may have access to. Cut off the fugitive’s resources.
    Wyshak’s search for Whitey money began in the early 1990s. He had two IRS agents on his secret team full time from 1995 through trial. They traced every dollar of every relative of Whitey going back decades and they came up with no evidence that anyone was helping Whitey. He also tapped all their phones, cloned their cells, monitored their internet, and stopped their mail. Wyshak first grabbed every asset he could from Whitey and even submitted a false affidavit to forfeit Whitey’s lottery winnings, swearing that the lottery money was really a money laundering scheme. Once Weeks decided to join the Wyshak team, however, Wyshak gave Weeks $1.1 million from the lottery win, now saying that it was a legit win.
    (Only US Attorneys can swear two opposite things are both true in Boston Fed Ct and not get indicted for perjury.)
    That lie was almost as big as the whopper Wyshak told Judge Casper, “Pat Nee has nothing to do with this case! He’s not a witness, he has nothing to do with it. It’s a non-sequitur!”

    Wyshak has been very considerate to one woman in court. He literally begged and pleaded Judge Young not to put this woman in jail for an offense that ALWAYS carries jail time.
    He argued to Judge Young that the woman had a lapse of judgement out of misguided loyalty to her fugitive brothers. Wyshak also argued that the negative publicity of the case was hard enough on the woman so she shouldn’t have to do jail time, too. Wyshak had only charged her with an Informatiion alleging she filed a misleading tax return.
    When one of her brothers later stood trial, however, Wyshak’s evidence revealed that the woman had actually aided her fugitive brothers to remain fugitive’s and run a massive criminal gaming enterprise. Specifically, the woman was the signatory and holder of an account through which she laundered between $10 and $20million in illicit income over multiple years for her fugitive brothers’ criminal organization. The only thing that really differentiates this woman’s offenses from Greig’s is about $14million in cash and a lawyer. That woman’s lawyer was Wyshak’s former boss!
    Wyshak totally bagged this case so his old boss could score a huge fee from the millionaire woman. I wonder how Wyshak benefitted in this arrangement? The kind of money that woman had could buy a nice 5 bedroom spread out in a western suburb, and a law school tuition, and a starting job in NY….and maybe even one back in Boston Federal Court.
    Coincidentally, Bulger was only charged only with racketeering/gaming-type offenses when Grieg left to live with him. No murders were pinned on Bulger until Wyshak started bribing witnesses several years later. The first of such bribed witnesses was Martorano, who no jury has ever found credible. But Wyshak and David Margolis engaged their PR machine on Morrissey to sell the deal with the slogan “The only thing worse than making this deal was not making this deal.” Thats a laugh.
    Now that Steve Flemmi is confirmed to be back on the street, only Grieg and one member of Winter Hill (or La Cosa Nostra members indicted with Bulger) is in jail.

    The bottom line is that Wyshak bribed and released a cadre of mass murderers to get one old guy and his girlfriend off a beach in CA. All of those guys are back in the rackets these days with Wyshak’s blessing. That’s crime fighting these days.
    Perhaps that explains why Wyshak must keep Grieg in jail. He needs something to show for his 30 year Bulger obsession/career besides an old man.

  4. Matt: I’m still trying to get me head around Greig’s indictment. Am I wrong in saying that more than four years have elapsed since Bulger was busted in Santa Monica? And in all that time, no significant progress has been made in nailing down Bulger’s activities? Why else would one have to publicly announce the indictment of his girlfriend a week or so after a major motion picture on Bulger appears in theaters nationwide?

    So what do Ortiz, Wyshak and their little friends at the FBI expect to get from Greig? Well, there’s the Lost City of Gold theory. In this scenario, Greig goes before a grand jury and coughs up a treasure map that leads the Feds to Whitey’s still-hidden millions. I’m just not buying into this one. I’m guessing that Whitey took off with about $2 million in cash, and that the $800,000 found in the walls of his apartment was all that was left after 16 years on the run.

    As for Bulger’s enablers, I don’t believe that he needed (or wanted) any helpers — in law enforcement or otherwise. I’m sure there were phone conversation between Bulger and members of his family over the years, but I don’t see things going much beyond that. Remember, Bulger had to be extremely careful about disclosing any information that might point to his whereabouts, even in dealings with members of his family. So I don’t see members of the Bulger family calling him collect or emptying bank accounts on his behalf.

    After more than four years of trying, I think the Feds have come up with very little — mostly because there is very little to come up with. I see Greig’s indictment as a last, desperate roll of the dice. Too bad they’re gambling with a woman’s life. Shame on Ortiz. Shame on Wyshak. And shame on the FBI.

  5. Baker’s letter is excellent. He should send a copy of it to each member of the Supreme Court and ask them if it permissible to hold an American Citizen in custody for seven years without a final decision on the appeal of his case. Does the right to a Speedy Trial exist in this country? Connolly’s Rights have been blatantly violated for years. 2. How does one conclude that Wyshak is not corrupt but just a zealous prosecutor? Would engaging in a criminal conspiracy with Salemme, Martorano and Flemmi to frame Connolly not be corrupt? If you partner with Mafia hitmen to get them off the hook and frame innocents you are a criminal and by definition corrupt. 3. Grieg may have had some assistance from a family member and she doesn’t want others implicated in this bogus prosecution.

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