Following an undocumented alien's court date, Joseph and MacGregor purportedly guided the migrant to a door behind the courtroom, allowing the individual to evade detention by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who'd been waiting outside.
CBS Bostonreports prosecutors allege that Newton District Court judge Shelley Joseph and court officerWesley MacGregor helped a defendant leave through a back door to avoid being detained by an ICE officer.
Joseph and MacGregor appeared in federal court Thursday afternoon. In addition, MacGregor is charged with perjury for allegedly making false statements to a grand jury.
A state judge in MA was indicted Thursday for refusing to allow ICE to take custody of an undocumented immigrant, according to court papers.
The state Supreme Judicial Court suspended Joseph without pay, but said its move "in no way reflects any opinion on the merits of the pending criminal case".
"This Order is based exclusively on the fact that a sitting judge has been indicted for alleged misconduct in the performance of her judicial duties".
"This case is about the rule of law", said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. That said, speaking from experience, a judge's job is to apply the law, not to write it, and certainly not to subvert it.
"Are judges special? Sure", Lelling said.
"When we as officers of the law are confronted with an abuse within our system, we take those allegations seriously". Lelling declined to say whether Jellinek is under federal investigation. "This case is not intended as a policy statement, at least not beyond making the point that the laws have to apply equally even if you're a state court judge".
Healey said it is a "bedrock principle" of the constitutional system that "federal prosecutors should not recklessly interfere with the operation of state courts and their administration of justice". Local jurisdictions and attorneys have complained that arresting undocumented immigrants in courthouses has a chilling effect on their participation in prosecuting criminals as witnesses and reporting victims. State Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, has been supportive of the newly-filed charges as well as the court's decision to sideline Joseph.
"We have witnesses who won't come to court. We have people who can't get divorced - women who can't seek restraining orders because they are terrified by ICE interference", she said.
Medina-Perez, who is from the Dominican Republic and has been reported twice previously, is identified as "A.S." in the court documents.
Newton police arrested the immigrant a year ago on a fugitive warrant for drunk driving in Pennsylvania and narcotics possession, the indictment said. Immigration officials say the defendant's real name is Oscar Manuel Peguero.
Court documents cite an order, issued upon his second removal, that prohibits Mr Medina-Perez from entering the U.S. until 2027, according to the newspaper.
Peguero was later picked up by police in April 2018.
With additional reporting from WBUR's Ally Jarmanning and Lisa Creamer. According to the charging documents, the defense attorney asked to speak with the defendant downstairs and Joseph responded, "That's fine".
A lawyer says a MA judge charged by federal authorities with helping a suspect avoid immigration detention is "absolutely innocent". From member station WBUR, Shannon Dooling has the story.
In their first court appearance on Thursday, both Boston-area judge Shelley Joseph, 51, and Wesley MacGregor, 46, pleaded not guilty and were released after being charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
The man was in court on drug charges and for being a fugitive from justice. He was also facing a fugitive warrant out of Pennsylvania for drunken driving.
Inside the courtroom, the lawyer for A.S., David Jellinek, told Joseph that his client would be deported if the ICE officer detained him, according to a recording of the proceeding.
"This prosecution is absolutely political", Thomas M. Hoopes, Joseph's lawyer, told reporters after the hearing. "Any conduct which severs the underlying trust that the citizens of this Commonwealth place in those who hold positions of power and authority is a stain on all who swear an oath to protect and serve, with honor and integrity", said Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Boston.
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