Shelley M. Richmond Joseph, 51, and Wesley MacGregor, 56, serve as a judge and court officer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
On Thursday they were indicted by a federal grand jury for helping an illegal immigrant identified as Jose Medina-Perez, sneak out the back door of a courtroom in order to evade and flee from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent who was waiting in the lobby to take him into custody. The event unfolded in Newton, Massachusetts on April 2, 2018.
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The agent was present because Medina-Perez was the subject of an ICE Detainer and the court was under written request to hold Medina-Perez for up to 48 hours, a request that went disregarded by the judge and officer named in the investigation.
The courtroom recordings were obtained and used as evidence to indict Joseph and MacGregor this Thursday.
On the recording of Medina-Perez’s hearing, you can hear Judge Joseph ask his attorney, “ICE is going to get him?”
The attorney replied to the Judge, “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.”
Judge Joseph then instructs the clerk to turn off the courtroom’s audio recorder, leaving at least a minute unrecorded.
When the recorder was turned back on, Medina-Perez’s attorney is heard saying that his client “has some property downstairs” and that he needs to speak with an interpreter.
According to officials, Judge Joseph then gave permission for Officer MacGregor to escort Medina-Perez out of the courtroom, using his security card access to let him out of the building to skirt the ICE Agent.
Court documents revealed on Thursday that when the recorder was off, the Judge and Defense Attorney were allegedly coming up with a plan for Medina-Perez to avoid the agent, who was waiting in the lobby.
The agent reportedly had no idea that the man had fled from the building.
When asked about the incident by her superiors, Judge Joseph reportedly lied.
Medina-Perez has been deported twice and has a fugitive warrant out for his arrest for drunken driving in Pennsylvania. The hearing on April 2, 2018 that led him to meeting Judge Joseph and Officer MacGregor was to arraign him on drug charges, as reported by The Boston Globe.
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Following the indictment on Thursday, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said, “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.”
According to Lelling the federal grand jury who indicted the two offenders formally accused the judge and court officer of obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting, obstruction of a federal proceeding, and aiding and abetting and conspiracy to obstruct justice. MacGregor was additionally charged with perjury before a federal grand jury.
Joseph and MacGregor pled not guilty to all counts at their indictment on Thursday and no date has been set for their next court appearance.
Joseph is currently suspended without pay. It was suggested she be “benched” by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker who appointed her to the position in 2017.
U.S. federal prosecutors on Thursday charged Massachusetts District Court Judge Shelley Joseph and Massachusetts Trial Court Officer Wesley MacGregor with conspiracy and obstruction for blocking an ICE officer from arresting an illegal immigrant in court. https://t.co/lFy5G2WCoL
— Nick Short (@PoliticalShort) April 25, 2019
Gov. Baker is quoted stating, “I don’t believe she should be hearing criminal cases until that federal case is resolved,” Baker said about Joseph. “Look, judges are not supposed to be in the business of obstructing justice. And as far as I can tell, based on the facts as they were presented, she clearly violated the court’s own policies with respect to the way they’re supposed to handle continuance and involve federal immigration enforcement.”
But Massachusetts Attorney General and Democrat Maura Healey disagrees and said in a statement that “[this indictment] is a radical and politically-motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts.”
As for 38 year old Medina-Perez, also known as “Oscar Manuelo Peguero” and several other aliases from the Dominican Republic… He was arrested one month later after a court hearing and was again let go.
Peter Ditzhugh, special agent in charge of ICE & Homeland Security Investigations in Boston and ran the investigation said, “Abuses of power hurt us all. It undermines the core mission of government to serve the people. It has no place in a just and accountable society.”