Defense: Unsuspecting Catherine Greig should not be punished for being in love with James ‘Whitey’ Bulger

The lawyer for Catherine Greig has asked that she serve no more than 27 months in federal prison for harboring James “Whitey” Bulger during his years on the run, saying her only crime was falling in love with the notorious gangster.

This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows Catherine Greig, the longtime girlfriend of Whitey Bulger, captured with Bulger June 22, 2011, in Santa Monica, Calif. Greig was by Bulger's side for more than three decades, first as a secret girlfriend he kept on the side while he lived with another woman, then as the faithful woman who left behind her life in Massachusetts so she could go on the run with him. (AP Photo/U.S. Marshals Service, File)
Catherine Greig — an unwitting accomplice blinded by love?
AP

“Why people fall in love has been debated since before Shakespeare’s sonnets,’’ attorney Kevin Reddington wrote in a 12-page sentencing recommendation filed today in US District Court. “The truth of the matter is that she was and remained in love with Mr. Bulger.’’

Reddington also criticized the families of Bulger’s alleged murder victims and asked a judge that they be prevented from speaking at her sentencing hearing. He suggested that their incessant campaign against the woman they call “evil” had driven prosecutors to ask for the strict, 10-year sentence they have proposed.

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Bulger, a former member of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, was captured last year in Santa Monica, Calif., along with Greig. The two had been on the lam for 16 years. In March, Greig pleaded guilty to charges that she helped Bulger remain at large.

Probation officials have calculated that Greig, 61, should serve a sentence of 27 to 33 months, based on federal sentencing guidelines. She also faces a maximum fine of $250,000 for each of her three convictions: conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, conspiracy to commit identity fraud, and identity fraud.

She is to be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday by US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock.

Tom Donahue, whose father, Michael, was allegedly murdered by Bulger in 1982, said the defense’s 27-month sentence recommendation was “absurd.”

He also said Reddington knows how powerful relatives of Bulger’s alleged victims can be if they speak at Greig’s sentencing.

“He knows it’s only going to hurt Catherine Greig if the victims get to speak,’’ Donahue said in a telephone interview. “There’s no doubt in my mind we should be able to speak about it.’’

“She was helping elude the police for 16 plus years,’’ he said. “She knew exactly who he was, and why he was wanted. His face was next to [Osama] bin Laden’s as America’s Most Wanted.”

Donahue suggested Greig’s behavior is all the proof the judge needs to impose the longest sentence possible – it was only because she was captured that her years on the run ended.

“What has she done to deserve any leniency?’’ he asked.

Bulger, the former head of the Winter Hill gang in Somerville, is accused of committing 19 murders, allegedly killing some people while he was working as an FBI informant. He has pleaded not guilty and is due to go on trial this fall.

Reddington said the federal probation office “has done a complete and thorough job of accurately presenting to this court [Greig’s] personal history, replete with the factual presentation of her life, work history, family, and emotional events that have impacted her life.”

By asking for a 10-year sentence, federal prosecutors were unjustly punishing Greig, Reddington argued in his filing.

“It is not justice to use the law as a cudgel to exact the proverbial ‘pound of flesh’ from a kind, gentle 60-year-old woman who is at the mercy of this court for a fair sentencing commensurate with her conduct which arose out of the love she had for Mr. James Bulger,’’ Reddington wrote.

Reddington lashed out at prosecutors, arguing that the tough sentencing recommendation was driven by a desire to polish the tarnished reputation of the FBI and federal law enforcement in Massachusetts. “The government tries to paint Grieg [sic] as some kind of sinister mastermind, orchestrating the escape and evasion of Bulger from law enforcement showing total and complete disdain for her obligations as a citizen,’’ he wrote.

“In fact, the government is apparently seeking to rectify the bungling and inept investigation of law enforcement and perhaps redeem them from the sordid history and bad publicity they have received,’’ Reddington wrote.

He also painted her as a positive force in their Santa Monica neighborhood during her and Bulger’s stay there, not an ominous presence.

“Greig lived a quiet unobtrusive life. … She was by all accounts a sweet, kind, gentle person who helped people, was friendly and very active in helping disabled or homeless animals,’’ he wrote. “She was a passive participant.’

Reddington contended that Greig was unaware of the more than $800,000 in cash and the arsenal of guns found in their apartment building in Santa Monica after she and Bulger were arrested.

“All of the necessaries were paid for in cash. It is readily apparent she was given cash by Bulger,’’ Reddington wrote. “A review of the evidence shows that she had a cash drawer in the kitchen much like a cash register. All sorts of denominations were in the drawer, from $100 bills to $1. This drawer was the source of her weekly expense money to maintain the modest lifestyle that they had.’’

He added, “There is no evidence whatsoever that she knew the location of the cash in the apartment or elsewhere.’’

Reddington lashed out in his filing at Steven Davis, whose 26-year-old sister Debra Davis was allegedly strangled by Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi in 1981. Her remains were among those of six victims unearthed in secret graves in Quincy and Dorchester in 2000.

Steven Davis has been one of the most outspoken critics of Bulger, Greig, and federal prosecutors.

Reddington said Davis led a campaign to force prosecutors to take a harsh stand against Greig following her guilty plea in March.

“It was then and only then that a full court press was organized to bury Catherine Grieg [sic] with a severe prison sentence coupled by a demand for exorbitant fines and seizure of everything she owns,’’ Reddington wrote.

“The ever garrulous Davis and his incessant press conferences and criticism of the United States Attorney’s Office as well as the ‘evil’ Grieg [sic] is clearly the ‘tail wagging the dog,’ ’’ Reddington wrote.

Reddington also contrasted the “ubiquitous Davis’’ — who has publicly said he is working on a screenplay about his family’s ties to the Bulger case — with Greig. “Ms Grieg [sic] could have made an incredible amount of money by selling her intellectual property rights to a ‘story’ with the attendant spin off projects,’’ Reddington wrote.

Using capital letters to emphasize his point, he added, “AT NO TIME did Grieg [sic] EVER intend to profit off her relationship with Mr. Bulger.’’

Reddington urged the judge to take into account the monetary loss she has suffered by choosing not to sell her story.

In a telephone interview today, Davis was surprised that Greig’s lawyer had criticized him for being an advocate for his slain sister.

“Don’t single me out because I speak on behalf of my sister,” said Davis. “There was love for these people they buried. … She wasn’t a homeless person, she wasn’t an unknown person, she was my sister.”

Davis objected to Reddington’s argument that the families of Bulger’s alleged victims be barred from speaking at Greig’s sentencing because they are not victims of her admitted criminal conduct—harboring a fugitive and identity fraud.

“If he [Reddington] says we’re not victims, what are we?” said Davis.“She became a villain then and with that, we’re victims of that. I’m going to be heard tomorrow one way or another, inside the court or outside the court.”

Davis also scoffed at Reddington’s claim that Bulger was considered a Robin Hood-type figure when he fled the Boston area to evade federal racketeering charges in 1995.

“He was no Robin Hood. He never gave to anybody. He took from everybody,” Davis said. “You can’t glamorize a guy who was doing what he did to my family.”