Whitey Bulger’s Girl Catherine Greig Is Finally Bringing Up The Issue Of The Validity Of Federal Judges Working As Part Of The Prosecutors Office..

I see it was reported yesterday in the Boston Globe that Catherine Greig is seeking to have her prison sentenced reduced.  One can only ask what took so long. I’ve written about this before. It really comes down to the issue of whether the judiciary is an independent branch or is it working in conjunction with the executive branch, the prosecutors, as a team. Asked another way, how independent is the judiciary supposed to be from the prosecutor?

We know why Catherine Greig is serving an eight year prison sentence. (She has already paid a fine of $150,000.) It’s because, as I wrote yesterday to a person who commented on my blog, the prosecutors want to squeeze her for information. Two big thing the prosecutors want from her: the way that she and Whitey communicated with people back in the Boston area. The prosecutors are hoping she can show that Billy Bulger, others in the Bulger family, or certain people in the Boston area were aware of the whereabouts of Whitey and her. The other being the location of Whitey’s hides for his money.

I initially thought Whitey should have given her the word to cooperate with the feds so that she would not have to do much time. I noted Whitey would never get out of jail again so there was nothing she could do to hurt him. Then I reasoned that since he didn’t give her the word she must have information that could harm others aside from Whitey. That’s what the feds are after.

I’ve long thought, from the time when I went to the trial of FBI agent John Connolly, as I noted in my book Don’t Embarrass The Family, that the prosecutors are after Billy Bulger. I noted in his opening statement to the jury the prosecutor John Durham’s Freudian slip was calling Connolly’s informant William Bulger rather than James Bulger. The, among other things, was the totally unnecessary testimony of Jonathan Chiel who testified for the sole purpose of putting Billy’s name again into the trial.

I noted in the book I went up to Connolly and told him that it seemed to me if he gave up Billy then he’d be able to cut a deal for himself.  is reply, which always stuck with me and this is from a guy who had a ton of damaging evidence being dumped on him who must have known deep inside that he was facing serious prison time, went something like, “How can I. He’s a man of integrity.”

The feds have a “Get Billy” mindset like the Boston Globe with its pushing of the 75 State Street affair and the Dershowitz school of followers whose animosity toward Billy is beyond imagination. I’ve written before if the prosecutors have evidence against Billy charge him. Stop the killing of his reputation by a thousand leaks.

The feds quixotic chase to get something on Billy Bulger has ensnared Greig. It is part of the reason for her extraordinary sentence having no prior criminal record, who made no financial gain and is charged with a non violent actions. I would venture to guess it is the highest sentence ever received by a woman in the history of the United States who committed no other crime than merely going off to hide with her boyfriend .

But to squeeze Greig, the prosecutors had to get the judge to go along with a sentence that was widely disproportionate to the conduct charged and to other sentences received by people in the Boston federal court. Judge Woodlock who sentenced her seemed to working as a partner of the prosecutors. How possibly justify sending Greig to 8 years for non violent crimes when Mafia people and other violent criminals are getting much less of a sentence?

Reading Greig’s appellate brief Judge Woodlock decided he would not follow the PSR given him by probation that the base level be 20 but upped it to 30. If it were kept at the 20 level, her appellate lawyer argued that Greig would have been sentenced within a range of 27 to 33 months rather than the 96 months she received. Judge Woodlock really piled it on Greig by adding two levels to the 30 for having firearms and an addition two levels for “obstruction of justice” again contrary to the recommendations in the PSR.

Greig when arrested in California said she had no assets when it turned out she had a bank account with six figures in it and an interest in a house in Quincy at the time she fled 17 years earlier. How her lie to the California probation officer obstructed justice I’ll leave that up to you but it seems to me a far reach?

I admit I know little about the federal sentencing practice. There are lots of factors that come in to it. Greig should have been sentenced at level 20 with a downward adjustment for pleading guilty. Rather it was increased to 30 plus the four added levels, or to 34 that is a significant jump. The table I saw set the level 20 at 33 – 41 months, around 3 years. At the level 34 it is 151- 181 months, 15 years maximum, or an almost five times increase.

The bottom line is Greig was really singled out for harsh punishment. It shows how the aura of Whitey’s evilness has settled into the minds of the judiciary. How will he ever get a fair trial when all the judges are preconditioned to condemn him? Judge Woodlock let five people speak at Greig’s sentencing hearing who were not victims.  He said he did so to “ensure the community feels that justice has been done.”  I’m not sure he accomplished his purpose. In fact, his over-the-top sentence sent out the opposite message that justice need not apply for people connected with Whitey. The appellate brief notes:

“Finally, the disparity in the sentences given to various players involved with Bulger’s alleged offenses and his flight from law enforcement merits some discussion. Kevin Weeks, who orchestrated Bulger’s flight and who in addition allegedly assisted in at least five murders, received a four and a half year sentence. John Martorano, who admitted to approximately twenty murders, received a sentence of ten and a half to eleven years. Granted, both cooperated with law enforcement and cut plea deals. Still, a sentence of eight years is unconscionable in the present circumstances and cannot be reconciled with justice and due process.”  (I’d note that Weeks didn’t “allegedly” assist in five murders. He admitted doing it and bragged about it in his book.) Appellate counsel failed to mention all the deals cut the Mafia guys or other people in Whitey’s crime family.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals should decide this in a year or so.  It’ll be long after Whitey is sent off to ADX Florence, America’s Gulag.  The feds will keep pressuring Greig since they still want to “Get Billy.”   It’ll be interesting to see if the appeals court is also of that mindset.

3 thoughts on “Whitey Bulger’s Girl Catherine Greig Is Finally Bringing Up The Issue Of The Validity Of Federal Judges Working As Part Of The Prosecutors Office..

  1. Matt,

    The Greig sentencing was an extraordinary travesty of justice and another excellent illustration of a fearful federal judge in Boston abandoning his oath and even his morality.

    Greig is not the first woman in history to be in love with a man who then became vilified by powerful elements of society. In fact, Sophocles described this very situation as “Antigone’s dilemma.” In short, it is the situation where the laws written by man conflict with the laws of human nature. For decades, Greig loved Bulger. When she fled with him after his pretextual indictment for relatively minor charges, her primary intent was clearly just to be with him. They had a relationship together for almost half a century. Certainly, her life with him in California could be construed as aiding a fugitive and that that may have caused the ubiquitous Steven Davis frustration. Her intent, however, was not to make Davis more of a victim, it was first and foremost to be with the individual she loved. Additionally, it is more likely Greig was a hindrance to Bulger’s flight than a benefit.

    Nor is this the first time that courts in civilized and less civilized countries have addressed Antigone’s dilemma. Just last year in Japan, a woman was arrested for harboring her fugitive, common law husband, for 17 years. The husband was wanted for mass murder and domestic terrorism for having poisoned several thousand commuters with ricin. She was sentenced to just 14 months in jail. It was noted her punishment was harsh relative to what Japanese law dictates. Japanese law recognizes Antigone’s Dilemma, but the judge strayed from it a bit because of the mass murder thing.

    Just last year, the Unites States government questioned and promptly released Osama Bin Laden’s wives! These women played an active role in giving him aid before, during and after he murdered over 3,000 unarmed US citizens. Ironically, Bin Laden’s wives were released because the governments of the world opposed any punishment of the wives for doing what wives are expected to do even if their husband is vilified by the entire free. Even the wife who was shot by Seal Team 6 was fixed up by American doctors and freed. (The wives were flown by the US to any destination of their choosing with no charges.)

    Another case even closer to home is that of Congressman John Tierney’s wife. She took (dirty) money from her fugitive brother to handle family affairs while he was wanted for various felonies. She received just a month in jail following a love-fest of a sentencing hearing during which she was represented by Donald Stern. During that hearing, US Attorney Freddy Wyshak vehemently argued for no jail time for his old boss’s client because “she is the wife of a sitting United States Congressman”! Judge Young pointed out that such defendants always got jail time. He explicitly rejected Wyshak’s untenable position that she should get special treatment “because she was a Congressman’s wife.” Note that Wyshak and Young made no effort to obtain her cooperation against her brother in his enormous open case. I guess they consider such cooperation against a relative unnatural in some cases, but not others.

    Massachusetts adopted a statute over one hundred years ago that protects people in Greig’s impossible position. The Mass “Accessory” statute provides an affirmative defense for certain relations who aid a fugitive. The SJC has even upheld the statute in the case of a fugitive from murder charges. Notably, the statute only applies to fugitives from felonies, not misdemeanors. Massachusetts is not the outlying liberal state in this regard. Seventeen other states offer similar statutory protections for certain people who aid fugitives. Although Greig may not have had a statutory marriage to Bulger (who actually knows?), she clearly falls within the intent and spirit of the statutes. (Bulger probably saved her another 20 years in jail by not marrying her.) In summary, Greig might not have received any jail time had she been sentenced in Superior Court just a few blocks away from that Court that gave her 8 years! (Judge Woodlock noted this Mass statute in Greig’s sentencing hearing when he was leaning towards adopting the Probation sentencing recommendation. After seeing all the media, the top brass from the US Attorney’s Office, hearing from the foul-mouthed alleged victims, he backed off and got caught up in the emotion of his own stoning.)

    Shortly after Woodlock’s embarrassing loss of composure at Greig’s hearing, Former Federal Judge Nancy Gertner wrote the following article which contained a picture of the Greig sentencing hearing.

    http://cognoscenti.wbur.org/2012/09/04/criminal-justice-media-nancy-gertner

    Another major error Woodlock made at Greig’s hearing was prosecuting from the bench, much like Stearns is doing to Bulger. Woodlock stated he was going to crush Greig with an unwarranted sentence so she would ‘start making the right choice and cooperate with the US Attorney.’ That’s just not Woodlock’s job.

    Woodlock erred further (grossly) when he said he was going to make an “examplar” of Greig. Whenever a judge says that they are straying from justice and punishing the person before them for crimes someone else might do in the future or something someone else got a lighter sentence for in the past. Either way, it’s not justice. More importantly, Woodlock knew he was sentencing someone who had been thrust into Antigone’s dilemma by circumstances beyond her control. Woodlock can sentence Greig to two hundred years, and its still not going to keep women from falling in love with men who may become fugitives. In this regard, Woodlock was dishonest even with himself.

    I am confident Judge Woodlock has realized that the woman in front of him exhibited more integrity than he did in that hearing. The bigger question is whether Woodlock will try to regain his integrity by correcting his abuses in the Greig case. Woodlock sold himself and abandoned his sworn duties to do justice. He knew exactly what justice called for, but he turned his back on it. He didn’t “middle”it, he didn’t man up and do the right thing. He merely laid out supine for the media and the USA. I felt dirty for him. Unlike Woodlock, Greig chose to maintain her dignity and take an unjust sentence over compromising herself for a lesser sentence. For people of integrity like Greig, serving 8 years with your dignity intact is far easier than serving one month knowing you have sold yourself.

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