Catherine Greig, girlfriend of James “Whitey” Bulger, was sentenced to 21 months in prison today for refusing to testify before a grand jury. Greig had pleaded guilty to a criminal contempt of court charge a couple of months ago. She will serve the 21 months in addition to the 8-year sentence that she is currently serving for helping Bulger while the two were on the lam.
Greig, age 65, appeared in court at 3:00, looking pale and thin, with close-cropped white hair and a baggy blue prison jumpsuit. She nodded to her twin sister, Margaret McCusker, who was watching from the gallery. She exchanged some friendly words and smiles with her attorney, Kevin Reddington, before court was called into session.
The only words Greig spoke during the court proceeding were “yes, it is” when Judge Dennis Saylor asked if it was true that she had gone over the pre-sentencing report prepared by the probation department.
Judge Saylor told the court that at least one Bulger victim, Steve Davis, wished to speak at the sentencing hearing. However, he did not allow Davis an opportunity to speak, citing the lack of notice to the defendant and the fact that Davis has already gotten to speak out at other court proceedings related to Greig and Bulger.
As Judge Saylor explained to the court, criminal contempt has no minimum or maximum sentence. He emphasized that Greig’s current offense – refusing to testify before a grand jury from 2014 to 2015 – is separate from the offense of harboring Bulger from 1995 to 2011, to which Greig pleaded guilty in 2012. Greig refused to tell the grand jury about whether she and Bulger received help from anyone else while on the run.
The judge spent many minutes figuring out Greig’s criminal history score and offense level in order to calculate the recommended sentence according to the federal guidelines. This included a lengthy debate with the attorneys for both sides about whether the underlying offense for the contempt charge was Bulger’s crimes of RICO/murder, or the hypothetical crimes of the hypothetical, unknown person(s) who may have aided Bulger and Greig. Reddington called it “Kafka-esque” for the court to be debating sentencing his client for covering up for hypothetical people who might not even exist. Judge Saylor decided that the guidelines sentencing range for Greig would be 30-37 months in prison, along with 2-5 years of probation and a fine of $10,000-$95,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Murrane addressed the judge to argue for a sentence of 37 months, to be served consecutively to Greig’s current sentence. As Bulger’s constant companion while on the lam, Greig is in an excellent position to shed light on his daily activities and whether anyone helped him, Murrane said, but she has deliberately refused to do so. “The defendant has been consistent, dogged, and tireless in her determination to obstruct justice,” she said. Murrane pointed out that Greig made her decision after careful consideration, having requested and been granted a week to make up her mind during the grand jury proceedings. Although Greig has accepted responsibility by pleading guilty, “she has not accepted that this choice was a wrong one.” Greig’s “unapologetic defiance” argues in favor of a harsh sentence, Murrane said. She also pointed out the number of journalists and other observers in the courtroom, illustrating the need to send a harsh message to the public about what happens when someone defies the court’s authority.
Greig’s attorney, Kevin Reddington, argued for leniency, saying that at Greig’s age, a 6-month sentence would be adequate. “I’ve come to know Catherine over the years, not only as a client but as a friend,” Reddington said. He called it “repulsive” that there are corrupt FBI agents out there who have not been charged and are still collecting pensions, and that John Martorano, Bulger’s henchman who committed 19 murders, only served 12 years. One of the first things that Greig told Reddington when he was appointed her lawyer was that she was not interested in making money off of her association with Bulger, as Martorano and others have done. “I would not write a book, I would not make a movie, I’m not interested in that,” Greig reportedly told him. “My relationship with James Bulger is one of love.” Reddington called “contempt” a strange word choice, saying “I could not think of a woman with mor respect for the court, more respect for people.”
Judge Saylor asked if Greig would like to address the court. She looked to Reddington, who told the judge that Greig has great respect for the court but declines to make a statement.
Then Judge Saylor explained all of the different considerations that he took into account in determining Greig’s sentence, and finally announced the sentence. He was not, he said, attempting to coerce Greig into testifying, as she has steadfastly refused to do so even when given the opportunity to change course.
“Ms. Greig is unusual, to say the least,” Saylor said. An intelligent, college-educated woman, soft-spoken and kind to animals, Greig grew up in a normal, working-class family. She does not have any learning disabilities or mental health issues and was not under any type of threat or danger when she refused to testify. “She is an intelligent, adult woman making what appears to be a very deliberate choice,” he said. She committed her crime “deliberately and unapologetically.”
As for the argument that Greig is guilty only of being in love with Bulger, Saylor said, “It is hard to imagine a less worthy object of love and affection than Bulger.” It’s possible, even likely, that Greig did not know the extent of Bulger’s crimes while living with him on the lam, Saylor pointed out, but she certainly does now. “History will remember Bulger as a monster,” he said, “and if she chooses to be loyal to such a person, that’s her affair, but I don’t have to respect that loyalty.” Saylor also addressed the possibility that Greig could be standing up not just for Bulger as a person but for the idea of being a “stand up guy” (or gal), an idea that Saylor called a “twisted version of loyalty” and a “dangerous and corrosive principle” that only helps criminals.
“Ms. Greig is not remorseful,” Judge Saylor said. “She is not apologetic, she is not contrite, she has not expressed regret or sorrow for her actions, she has not distanced herself from Mr. Bulger. She is, in her own quiet way, defiant and unapologetic… I suspect that if she were put in the grand jury tomorrow she would do the same thing.”
Judge Saylor announced that he was sentencing Greig to 21 months in prison on top of what she is already serving, right in between what was recommended by the government and what was recommended by the defense. He had her stand for formal imposition of the sentence. Greig listened, stone-faced and emotionless, occasionally nodding slightly in acknowledgement as Judge Saylor read the sentence and the supervised release conditions Greig will be under when she is eventually released from prison. At about 4:15, court was adjourned. After a pat on the back from Reddington, Greig was handcuffed and led away.