“This case is about the rule of law,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling
Thursday, Massachusetts District Court Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph and now retired Court Officer Wesley MacGregor were indicted on one count of obstruction of justice in relation to allegations from 2018 in which the pair is accused of helping an illegal immigrant sneak out the back of the courthouse to avoid arrest by ICE officials who’d arrived to arrest the individual. MacGregor was also charged with perjury.
From NBC News:
A Massachusetts judge conspired with a court officer to help a twice-deported undocumented immigrant slip out a back exit of a courthouse and elude arrest by immigration authorities, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.
Judge Shelley Joseph and court officer Wesley MacGregor were hit with federal obstruction of justice charges for allegedly aiding the defendant, who was arrested in March 2018 on charges of drug possession and being a fugitive from justice, according to an indictment by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston.
The man, identified as A.S., was allowed to dash out of a rear sally port entrance at the state courthouse in Newton, Massachusetts, on April 2, 2018, after a plainclothes immigration enforcement agent identified himself to the judge and other courtroom personnel, federal prosecutors said.
“This case is about the rule of law,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling.
“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.”
“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, but this isn’t a policy seminar, it’s a law enforcement action,” said Lelling.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (a Democrat) called the indictment “radical” and “politically motivated.” From WBUR:
Today’s indictment is a radical and politically-motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts. It is a bedrock principle of our constitutional system that federal prosecutors should not recklessly interfere with the operation of state courts and their administration of justice. This matter could have been appropriately handled by the Commission on Judicial Conduct and the Trial Court. I am deeply disappointed by U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling’s misuse of prosecutorial resources and the chilling effect his actions will have.
The indictment doesn’t cite the name of the defendant who was allegedly helped out the back door, but WBUR believes he was twice deported:
The defendant 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 the defendant’s real name is Oscar Manuel Peguero. According to Lelling’s office, Peguero has been deported from the U.S. twice — in 2003 and 2007 — and a federal order had been issued prohibiting him for re-entering until 2027.
The incident was first reported by The Boston Globe last December. Courtroom recordings allegedly caught the judge, state prosecutor and defendant’s attorney talking about the ICE agent looking for Peguero.
Peguero was picked up by police later in April 2018.
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