Massachusetts Judge Who Has Netted $500,000-Plus While On Leave Is Going To Trial On Charges She Helped An Illegal Immigrant Evade Immigration Authorities

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A Massachusetts judge who has earned more than $500,000 since being placed on paid administrative leave in April 2019 can be prosecuted on charges that she blocked the arrest of an illegal immigrant, a federal appeals court ruled last week. 

Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph, whose state salary is $184,694 per year, has been paid $522,705 since she was suspended on April 25, 2019, the day she was indicted, a review of state payroll records by NewBostonPost found.

Joseph, 54, had been a district court judge for 137 days when, according to federal prosecutors, she helped a man escape the custody of federal immigration officers on April 2, 2018. According to a federal indictment, she allowed the man to leave Newton District Court through a back door, evading a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent. 

The First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston rejected an appeal to dismiss her case on Monday, February 28. The court said that it was “premature,” rejecting Joseph’s argument that she has “absolute judicial immunity.”

The three federal judges on the appeals court panel ruled that without an explicit statutory or constitutional right to evade trial, Joseph and her courtroom deputy, Wesley MacGregor, 59, must first face a jury before pursuing claims of immunity.

“We must reject the defendants’ request for pretrial review of the denial of their motions to dismiss because their appeals are premature,” the court’s ruling states.

Both are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, aiding and abetting obstruction of justice, and aiding and abetting obstruction of a federal proceeding. MacGregory is also charged with perjury during grand jury proceedings.

MacGregor is a defendant in the case because he is accused of leading the illegal immigrant, Jose Medina-Perez, through the back door to escape the court.

At the time, Medina-Perez wasn’t allowed in the United States. He had been deported twice before and was barred from entering the United States until 2027. Medina-Perez was arrested for narcotics possession in Newton, a sanctuary city. 

Medina-Perez was supposed to go into ICE custody after he was done in court because the agency had issued a detainer for him – but that did not happen.

“The clerk did as instructed, and also told the ICE officer that if released, [the migrant] would exit the courtroom into the courthouse lobby,” the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote.

“According to the government, Judge Joseph directed the clerk to go off the record while she devised this  plan with counsel,” the decision later adds. “At this point, the courtroom recorder was turned off for nearly a minute, allegedly in violation of  Massachusetts court rules. After the recorder was turned back on and the alleged plan was set in motion, Deputy MacGregor used his access card to swipe A.S. out the back door of the courthouse.”

A.S. are the initials the court uses to refer to Medina-Perez during the court case. 

The case is United States v. Joseph. It stems from a federal indictment on April 25, 2019. Later that same day, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court suspended Joseph. MacGregor retired shortly after the indictment.

Joseph’s lawyer, Michael Keating, could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday, March 8.


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