Federal authorities have indicted Massachusetts District Court judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph and her court officer Wesley MacGregor for conspiracy, obstruction of justice and other crimes.
The move has infuriated leftists, who claim that the judge should be allowed to thwart federal law.
Joseph was suspended without pay hours after the indictment was announced.
The charges stem from a reprehensible action that allowed a drug-using criminal alien to escape federal agents.
Local outlet WCBV reported:
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.
Here’s the top of the indictment of a judge and court officer – accused of helping a defendant evade ICE agents. Both are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice & obstruction of a fed proceeding. Only the court officer is charged with perjury. #wcvb pic.twitter.com/LiKlDSZeGv
— Karen Anderson (@karenreports) April 25, 2019
According to the indictment filed by Lelling’s office, MacGregor agreed with the immigrant’s defense attorney to release the immigrant through a rear door in order to evade the federal officers.
Joseph participated by creating a pretext for the immigrant to be brought downstairs for “further interview” so he could be released through that door, the indictment said.
Joseph and MacGregor face charges of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of a federal proceeding, the indictment said.
MacGregor is also charged with perjury on suspicion of giving false testimony to a federal grand jury that was reviewing the case.
“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,” Lelling said. “We cannot pick and choose the federal laws we follow, or use our personal views to justify violating the law.”
Gov. Charlie Baker had previously called for Joseph to be removed from the bench.
However, democrat Attorney General Maura Healey was furious. She claimed that enforcing federal law was a “radical and politically-motivated attack on our state.”
“The Department of Justice’s decision to bring this case is preposterous, ironic, and deeply damaging to the rule of law,” Carol Rose, of ACLU of Massachusetts, said in a statement.
Lelling said the case was not intended to send a political message.
“We did not bring this case in response to the public debate over immigration enforcement,” he said.
If enforcing federal law and punishing law-breakers is now considered an ‘attack,’ something is highly wrong with the people who think that way.
Many people hope that both the judge and the officer will be punished to the fullest extent of the law, and that other bench activists will learn that they are not immune to following the law themselves.