A Massachusetts judge and court officer are facing federal charges for their roles in allegedly helping a criminal defendant evade Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when they were eligible for deportation.
According to an indictment filed on Wednesday, Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph and Trial Court Officer Wesley MacGregor of the Newton District Court helped a defendant identified only as A.S.
A.S. was arrested on March 30, 2018 and charged with being a fugitive from justice from Pennsylvania and narcotics possession, the indictment says, and fingerprinting showed that A.S. had previously been deported from the United States in 2003 and 2007. After the second deportation, A.S. was barred from entering the U.S. until 2027, the indictment says.
After A.S.’s 2018 arrest, ICE issued a Notice of Action and a Warrant of Removal so that law enforcement agencies would know to hold A.S. for 48 hours and to let ICE know if A.S. was released. On April 2, 2018, A.S. was transferred to the Newton District Court for arraignment, and the Notice and Warrant were forwarded to the court, prosecutors, and defense attorney, and other officials.
ICE showed up at the court that day in order to pick up A.S. The court clerk told Joseph, the indictment says, and a plainclothes ICE officer sat in the audience of the courtroom. Joseph then allegedly had a court clerk tell the ICE officer wait outside the courtroom. The judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney then discussed the situation during a sidebar.
Both the defense attorney and the prosecutor indicated that there was reason to believe that A.S. was not really the person who popped up in the national database, and that A.S. could be deported by mistake if ICE got involved. The judge then told the court reporter that they were going off the record, before eventually going back on and resuming the matter.
The prosecutor dismissed one count that A.S. was facing, and did not request bail for the others. When the clerk reminded Joseph that the ICE official was waiting, Joesph allegedly said, “That’s fine. I’m not gonna allow them to come in here. But he’s been released on this.”
The indictment says that Joseph then allowed A.S. to be released, saying that the defense attorney could accompany A.S. to the lockup area downstairs for “further interview.” Instead, the indictment alleges, MacGregor led A.S. out and used his security access card to let A.S. out through the courthouse’s rear door, without ICE knowing.
They each face one count of Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice, Obstruction of Justice; Aiding and Abetting, and Obstruction of a Federal Proceeding; Aiding and Abetting. MacGregor is also charged with one count of Perjury for allegedly telling the grand jury that he didn’t know about ICE’s presence in the courtroom at the time.
According to local Boston25’s Peter Wilson, Judge Joseph has already been suspended without pay as a result of the matter.
— Peter Wilson (@PetesWire) April 25, 2019
[Image via John Moore/Getty Images]