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.