A Massachusetts judge allegedly obstructed justice by sticking her own neck out for a criminal illegal immigrant.
According to federal authorities, Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph, along with a court officer, helped an illegal immigrant, who had been arrested for possessing drugs, escape detainment by ICE.
The judge, who is supposed to uphold justice, is now herself facing the other side of the court room.
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Fox Newshad the following to say about the details:
A Massachusetts judge and court officer accused of helping an illegal immigrant flee an Immigration and Customs Enforcementagent waiting to take him into custody were indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury for obstruction of justice and three other counts, officials said.
Newton District Court Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph and the court officer, identified in court documents as Wesley MacGregor, face several charges stemming from an April 2, 2018 incident in which the pair allegedly helped Jose Medina-Perez get out of the courthouse via a back door in order to elude the ICE agent who sought Medina-Perez.
“This case is about the rule of law. The allegations in today’s indictment involve obstruction by a sitting judge, that is intentional interference with the enforcement of federal law, and that is a crime," U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said Thursday.
Joseph and MacGregor were both charged with obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting; obstruction of a federal proceeding, aiding and abetting and conspiracy to obstruct justice, Lelling said. MacGregor was also charged with perjury before a federal grand jury.
Joseph, who has been suspended without pay, and MacGregor appeared in court Thursday and pleaded not guilty to all counts. No date has been set for their next court appearance.
"As public servants, all of the officers in the court make a promise — a promise to serve the people’s interest above all else. Today we know this promise has been broken,” said Peter Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, who led the investigation.
Medina-Perez, a twice-deported illegal immigrant with a fugitive warrant for drunken driving in Pennsylvania, had been in Joseph's courtroom in order to be arraigned on drug charges, the Boston Globe previously reported.
Medina-Perez was the subject of an ICE detainer -- a written request to hold an individual wanted for deportation for up to 48 hours -- and an ICE agent was waiting in the lobby of the courthouse to detain Medina-Perez after the arraignment, officials said. But during the hearing, Joseph asked Medina-Perez’s attorney “ICE is going to get him?,” according to courtroom recordings obtained by the Boston Globe in December and released in court documents Thursday.
Medina-Perez's lawyer was also heard telling Joseph “ICE will pick him up if he walks out the front door. But I think the best thing for us to do is clear the fugitive issue and release him on a personal, and hope that he can avoid ICE...That's the best I can do.”
“What if we detain him?" the judge asked before requesting the clerk to turn off the courtroom’s audio recorder, leaving nearly a minute unrecorded.
Minutes later, Medina-Perez's attorney said his client "has some property downstairs" and needed to speak to an interpreter, which Joseph allowed.
MacGregor then used his security access card to escort Medina-Perez out of the courthouse without being seen by the ICE agent, officials said.
"With the recorder off, defendant Joseph and the Defense Attorney discussed devising a way to have A.S. [Medina-Perez] avoid being arrested by the ICE officer," court documents stated.
WCVB also commented on the case:
Federal authorities are charging a Massachusetts District Court judge and a trial court officer with obstruction of justice and other crimes, according to an indictment obtained by 5 Investigates.
Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph was suspended without pay Thursday, just hours after the federal indictment was announced.
Joseph and Wesley MacGregor, the trial court officer, are accused of conspiring to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement from taking an immigrant into custody at Newton District Court on April 2, 2018.
Both were allowed to surrender themselves to face the charges, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling's office said.
They appeared in federal court for a hearing Thursday afternoon. Both pleaded not guilty and were released without bond.
The immigrant, who had been deported twice before, was arrested four days earlier for narcotics possession and being a fugitive from justice in Pennsylvania. When his fingerprints were taken, ICE became aware of the arrest.
ICE issued an order for a federal immigration detainer and sent an officer to the courthouse.
In the courtroom, Joseph ordered the courtroom recording device to be turned off for 52 seconds in order to conceal a conversation about getting the immigrant out of the courthouse, the indictment said.