Healey slams indictment of Mass. judge as a ‘politically motivated attack on our state’

BOSTON (WHDH) - Maura Healey is slamming the indictment of a Massachusetts trial court judge and a trial court officer accused of conspiring together to prevent an ICE agent from taking a twice-deported drug suspect into custody last year, calling it a “politically motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts.”

In a statement issued hours after U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling announced charges against Newton District Court Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph, 51, of Natick, and Court Officer Wesley MacGregor, 56, of Watertown, Healey said she was “deeply disappointed” in the indictment.

“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,” the statement read. “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.”

Prosecutors allege Joseph and MacGregor conspired together in April 2018 to ensure that the twice-deported suspect, who had been arrested by Newton police for narcotics possession and being a fugitive from justice, avoided being taken into custody by a waiting ICE agent.

MacGregor is also accused of falsely testifying before a Grand Jury that he was unaware that an ICE agent was in the building.

Joseph and MacGregor are both facing charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice; aiding and abetting, obstruction of a federal proceeding; aiding and abetting, and one count of perjury.

In a statement Friday afternoon, the Supreme Judicial Court announced that Joseph has been suspended without pay.

In a statement, 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. 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 people of Massachusetts expect that, just like they expect judges to be fair, impartial, and to follow the law themselves.”

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