Federal prosecutors have charged a judge and court officer in Massachusetts with a series of federal crimes related to their actions in helping an illegal immigrant flee from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, Fox News reported.
The United States District Court in Boston, Massachusetts, charged Newton District Court Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph and trial court officer Wesley MacGregor with conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, obstruction of a federal proceeding and perjury. Attorney Andrew Lelling stated, “This case is about the rule of law … We cannot pick and choose the federal laws we follow or use our personal views to justify violating the law.”
The origins of this case began on April 2, 2018, when Judge Joseph and court officer MacGregor allowed an illegal immigrant by the name of Jose Medina-Perez to sneak out of the courthouse order to escape a deportation order to be followed through by an ICE agent who sought Medina-Perez on drug charges.
This illegal immigrant had been deported twice before in 2003 and 2007 on other criminal charges. Despite this, his lawyer was recorded telling the judge that “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.”
The judge then asked, “what if we detain him?” before ordering the court officer to go off the record and turn off the courtroom’s audio recorder for nearly a minute. After that, the defendant’s lawyer said that his client “has some property downstairs” and wanted to speak through an interpreter, the judge allowed the court officer to then escort the illegal immigrant in order to escape through the back door and avoid impending deportation while the ICE officer assigned to Medina-Perez was waiting in the lobby.
The court documents charging the judge state that, “with the recorder off, defendant Joseph and the Defense Attorney discussed devising a way to have A.S. [Medina-Perez] avoid being arrested by the ICE officer.” The ICE officer did not know that the illegal immigrant had left the courthouse and was later mislead by the judge.
Department of Homeland Security special agent Peter Fitzhugh lead the investigations into the 2018 incident and said during an announcement today that, “The people of this country deserve nothing less than to know that their appointed and elected representatives are working on their behalf while adhering to and enforcing the rule of law, not a personal agenda …The special agents of Homeland Security Investigations remain committed to upholding our promise to the public, without compromise.”
The Bost Globe had reported that Medina-Perez was arrested a month later and after the court hearing he was let go by another immigration judge who released him on bond. That particular case is still currently pending.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maury Healy has responded to the breaking news through a statement on Twitter.
— Kathryn Burcham (@kathrynburcham) April 25, 2019