The U.S. Attorney in Boston on Thursday announced the indictment of Massachusetts state Judge Shelley Joseph and court officer Wesley MacGregor for allegedly helping a man escape arrest by an ICE official waiting at the courthouse in Newton, MA.
The pair were charged with one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and two counts of obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting, per WCVB. MacGregor was also slapped with an additional count of perjury while Joseph was suspended from the bench without pay.
“This case is about the rule of law,” U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling told NBC News. “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 man, referred to in the complaint only as “alien subject” or “A.S.,” was identified as Jose Medina-Perez by MassLive. He was arrested in Massachusetts for drug possession and appeared in court on April 2, 2018. As the site reported, an ICE plainclothes agent revealed themselves to Joseph and the rest of the courtroom at the start of the proceedings, saying ICE had an outstanding warrant for Medina-Perez from a previous drunk driving arrest in Pennsylvania. Prosecutors allege the judge had the court clerk ask the ICE agent to step outside the courtroom, telling them that they would dismiss Medina-Perez into the lobby once the proceedings concluded.
According to the complaint, Medina-Perez’s attorney approached the bench for a sidebar, alerting Joseph that ICE may have been targeting the wrong person. Following 52 seconds of unrecorded conversation, the state prosecutor admitted that it seemed like ICE had a case of mistaken identity.
According to the indictment, MacGregor allegedly helped Medina-Perez escape arrest through a sally-port exit located in the back of the courthouse, with MacGregor using his security badge to swipe Medina-Perez out of the building.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey denounced the indictments in a statement released to the press.
“Today’s indictment is a radical and politically-motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts,” Healey wrote. “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. 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.”
We stan Judge Joseph and MacGregor, heroes in a truly fucked up system.