BOSTON (Reuters) - A judge sentenced the girlfriend of reputed mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger to eight years in prison on Tuesday for her role in helping him evade arrest for 16 years.
Judge Douglas Woodlock also imposed on Catherine Greig a $150,000 fine and ordered her to serve three years of supervised release once she is out of prison.
Rather than face trial Greig, 61, pleaded guilty in March to charges of conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, conspiracy to commit identity fraud, and identity fraud. Prosecutors had sought 10 years in prison while her attorney had recommended 27 months.
Woodlock told Greig that she had to take responsibility for her own choices made over the many years that Bulger was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.
“We are all responsible for what we do ... we all make choices,” Woodlock said.
Greig, in blue prison jumpsuit, briefly nodded at her twin sister, Margaret McCusker, before being led out of the packed courtroom in downtown Boston.
Outside the courtroom, McCusker said merely that she “loves her sister.”
Earlier, Woodlock had indicated he was leaning toward a comparatively long sentence for Greig because of her active role in helping Bulger, who is accused of 19 murders from the 1970s and 1980s, hide from authorities.
“The defendant was involved in more than merely providing shelter to Mr. Bulger, she provided a variety of things, and engaged in criminal activity,” Woodlock said.
Greig and Bulger, 82, were arrested on June 22, 2011, in an apartment hideout in Santa Monica, California, blocks from the Pacific Ocean, where they had lived under a number of fake and stolen identities for most of their years on the run.
A cache of some 30 weapons as well as more than $800,000 in cash was hidden in a hole in the wall. Much of the pre-sentencing debate centered on Greig’s knowledge of, and access, to, the guns.
Before sentencing, the court heard emotional testimony from the families of some of Bulger’s alleged victims.
“She was not held against her will ... She was a willing supporter and co-conspirator of Whitey Bulger,” said Steve Davis, whose 26-year-old sister, Debra, was one of Bulger’s alleged victims. “She doesn’t even have the heart to look any of us in the eye.”
Tim Connors, whose father Edward was allegedly shot by Bulger in 1975, said Greig was “a cold-hearted criminal (who) never showed any sympathy toward any of us.”
Greig did not flinch at Davis’ words, and did not turn to look at the families. She also declined to address the court.
Bulger has pleaded not guilty to charges linked to 19 murders in the 1970s and 1980s, when prosecutors say he ran the mostly Irish-American Winter Hill gang.
The accused mob boss fled Boston in 1994 after getting a tip from a corrupt FBI agent that authorities were closing in on him. Greig joined Bulger a few weeks later.
Bulger’s trial is scheduled to start on November 5 although his lawyers have said they need more time to sift through hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence.
Bulger’s case inspired Martin Scorsese’s 2006 Academy Award-winning film “The Departed.”
The case is United States v. Catherine Greig, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, No. 11-10286.
Reporting by Scott Malone; writing by Ros Krasny; Editing by David Storey