Today the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts indicted District Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph and court officer Wesley MacGregor for obstruction of justice and criminal conspiracy in their efforts to assist criminal illegal aliens escape capture by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). [Media Report Here]
BOSTON – A Massachusetts District Court Judge and Trial Court Officer were indicted today in federal court in Boston on obstruction of justice charges for preventing an ICE Officer from taking custody of an alien defendant.
Shelley M. Richmond Joseph, 51, of Natick, who was appointed as a Massachusetts District Court Judge in November 2017, and Wesley MacGregor, 56, of Watertown, a former Trial Court Officer since 1993, were indicted on one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and two counts of obstruction of justice – aiding and abetting. MacGregor was also charged with one count of perjury.
“This case is about the rule of law,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “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. We cannot pick and choose the federal laws we follow, or use our personal views to justify violating the law. Everyone in the justice system – not just judges, but law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and defense counsel – should be held to a higher standard. The people of Massachusetts expect that, just like they expect judges to be fair, impartial and to follow the law themselves.”
[…] According to court documents, on March 30, 2018, Newton Police arrested and charged an alien defendant under Massachusetts General Law with being a fugitive from justice and narcotics possession. Further investigation revealed that the defendant had twice been deported from the United States – in 2003 and 2007, and that a federal order had been issued prohibiting the defendant from entering the U.S. until 2027.
After learning of the defendant’s arrest, ICE issued a Federal Immigration Detainer and Warrant of Removal, which stated that the defendant was subject to removal from the United States. On April 2, 2018, Newton Police transferred custody of the defendant to Newton District Court (NDC), where Joseph was assigned as the District Court Judge and MacGregor as a Trial Court Officer, and forwarded the Detainer and Warrant.
At 9:30 a.m. on April 2, 2018, a plainclothes ICE officer was dispatched to NDC to execute the Warrant and take custody of the defendant following his release from NDC. The Officer announced his presence to Courthouse personnel, including Joseph, upon arrival. Prior to the afternoon session, the courtroom clerk – at Joseph’s direction – allegedly instructed the ICE Officer to leave the courtroom and wait outside in the lobby, stating that in the event that the defendant was released, it would be through the courtroom and into the lobby.
At 2:48 p.m. the case was called and the proceedings were captured on the courtroom’s audio recorder, as prescribed under the rules for all State District Courts. The audio recording captured Joseph, the defense attorney and the ADA speaking at side bar about the defendant and the ICE detainer. Joseph then allegedly ordered the courtroom clerk to “go off the record for a moment.” For the next 52 seconds, the courtroom audio recorder was turned off, in violation of the District Court rules.
At 2:51 p.m., the recorder was turned back on, and Joseph indicated her intent to release the defendant. According to the charging documents, the defense attorney asked to speak with the defendant downstairs and Joseph responded, “That’s fine. Of course.” When reminded by the clerk that an ICE Officer was in the courthouse, Joseph stated, “That’s fine. I’m not gonna allow them to come in here. But he’s been released on this.” Immediately following the proceeding, MacGregor allegedly escorted the defendant, his attorney and an interpreter downstairs to the lockup and used his security access card to open the rear sally-port exit and release the defendant at 3:01 p.m.
MacGregor was also charged with perjury for falsely testifying before a federal grand jury on July 12, 2018, that, prior to releasing the defendant from the sally-port exit, he was unaware that ICE agents were in the Courthouse and that there was a detainer for the defendant. (read more)
The illegal alien isn’t named in the indictment, but has been previously identified as Jose Medina-Perez, 38, from the Dominican Republic. In April 2018, he was facing drug charges and a fugitive warrant out of Pennsylvania for drunken driving. Immigration officials say his real name is Oscar Manuel Peguero and was later picked up by police.
Speaking to reporters, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said this case is neither an indictment of the state’s trial court system nor about immigration policy, “it is about the rule of law.” Lelling said he has heard from people surprised his office would pursue charges against a sitting judge, “we did not bring this case in response to the public debate over immigration enforcement. There are reasonable arguments on both sides of that debate,” Lelling said. “But this isn’t a policy seminar, it’s a law enforcement action.” [Link to Press Conference]
Link to Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Statement HERE.
Here’s the indictment: