Mass. Judge Charged with Obstruction for Allegedly Helping Man Evade ICE

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers detain a suspect in Los Angeles, Calif., February 7, 2017. (Charles Reed/Reuters)

Federal authorities have charged a Massachusetts trial judge with obstruction of justice after he allegedly helped an undocumented immigrant evade U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph, 51, of Massachusetts District Court, and Wesley MacGregor, 56, a trial-court officer, are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, aiding and abetting the obstruction of justice, and aiding and abetting the obstruction of a federal proceeding, according to the federal indictment against them. MacGregor is also charged with perjury.

Joseph and Macgregor allegedly helped an undocumented immigrant, identified only as A.S., avoid an ICE agent sent to Newton District Court to arrest him. A.S. had reportedly been deported twice before and arrested three days earlier for narcotics possession as well as fleeing from justice in Pennsylvania. After fingerprints were taken, ICE officials issued an order for a federal immigration detainer and sent an agent to arrest A.S.

The indictment says that Joseph subsequently turned off the recording device in the courtroom in violation of District Court rules in order to be able to talk freely about the plan to help the defendant avoid ICE.

“That’s fine. I’m not gonna allow them to come in here,” Joseph responded when reminded that ICE was waiting for the defendant’s release, according to federal authorities.

“This case is about the rule of law,” United States Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a statement. “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 actions of the judge in this incident are a detriment to the rule of law and highly offensive to the law enforcement officers of ICE who swear an oath to uphold our nation’s immigration laws,” added Todd M. Lyons, the acting director for enforcement and removal operations in ICE’s Boston field office.

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