Feds drop charges against judge accused of helping immigrant evade ICE custody

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Federal prosecutors have dropped charges against a Newton, Massachusetts, judge accused of helping an immigrant evade a courthouse arrest by immigration officials.

Charges were dropped against Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph after she agreed to report herself and make certain admissions to the Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct, according to a statement by the federal prosecutor assigned to oversee the case, U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Cunha of Rhode Island.

Law360, Reuters, Law.com, the Associated Press and the New York Times are among the publications reporting the news.

Joseph was charged along with her now-former court officer, Wesley MacGregor. Prosecutors dropped all charges against Joseph and all but one charge against MacGregor. His remaining charge of perjury would eventually be dropped under a deferred prosecution agreement.

The other charges against Joseph and MacGregor were conspiracy to obstruct justice, aiding and abetting obstruction of justice, and aiding and abetting obstruction of a federal proceeding.

Prosecutors had alleged that Joseph and MacGregor helped an immigrant appearing before her evade arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in April 2018 by concocting a ruse. The immigrant would supposedly go downstairs to the lockup to retrieve property after his release following the court hearing. MacGregor then helped the immigrant leave through the back door.

Joseph made several admissions in a statement of stipulated facts, according to the media coverage.

Joseph acknowledged that, after learning that an ICE agent was waiting to make the arrest, she had an off-the-record sidebar conversation with the immigrant’s defense lawyer. After that, the lawyer asked whether he could go downstairs for a conversation involving an interpreter. The lawyer also said his client had property downstairs.

The immigrant was then allowed to escape after going downstairs.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Boston had refused to block the prosecution in March.

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