BOSTON — Federal inmate Catherine Greig, the longtime companion of captured fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger, will have to return to court Wednesday in her effort to win release on bail.
At a hearing Monday, federal prosecutors laid out a trail of newly discovered evidence against Bulger and Greig. It was so long, it forced the judge to schedule a second day.
Entering a packed courtroom in shackles that were a ladies small, Greig broke into a warm, full toothed smile, the kind a dental hygienist might envy. Light framed with casually cropped hair that’s naturally grey now, she had an eerie resemblance to fellow California resident Joan Baez.
“She wasn’t out in the weather too much. She’s white as a ghost,” observed Steven Davis, who came to see justice done for his murdered sister Debby.
Described by her attorney as “a loving and caring person,” who posed no risk of flight and no danger to the community, Greig was here to seek bail. But unlike Baez, whose activism involved civil disobedience, Greig’s “activism” ran to a fugitive wanted for 19 murders, including Tom Donahue’s father.
“You know, ‘Whitey’ came here in 1995 and he switched women. He got rid of the other lady, and she knowingly and willingly hopped in the car with him and went on the run with him for 16 years,” Donahue said.
Greig’s attorney, Kevin Reddington, had filed a motion arguing that she was merely a “traveling companion.” He said the government had presented no evidence she had “harbored or provided aid to a fugitive.”
If that were a challenge to prosecutors, they met it with what seemed a slam dunk. Calling an FBI agent to the stand, they laid out false documents and identities discovered in Bulger and Greig’s Santa Monica apartment. Birth certificates, Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, AARP cards, certificates of military service. There were 13 sets of fake IDs for both of them. Thirteen different identities. And federal prosecutor Jamie Herbert established that Greig had been present during the making or transfer of those fake identities.
After hearing all of this, Donahue was emphatic.
“So you can’t say that she was either forced or she didn’t like it, she was threatened for his life. She was traveling the world, going to Vegas, walks on the beach. She was living a good, comfortable life with millions of dollars,” Donahue said.
The evidence in this case, said the prosecutor to the magistrate, will show “the extent to which they went to stay one step ahead of authorities.”
The government even rolled out store surveillance video from a Santa Monica pharmacy, showing Greig picking up a prescription for “Whitey.” She even signed for it. To the defense’s assertion the government hadn’t presented any evidence Greig had harbored or helped a fugitive, prosecutors were seemingly hammering one nail after another.
“She’s been in jail for a few weeks and she should already get out. I think it’s a joke if she gets out,” Donahue said.
And then came this from his mother, Pat Donahue, whose husband was shot dead in the street no more than a couple hundred yards from where the courthouse now stands.
“This is a woman who made a choice to spend 16 years with a man that she knew all about him, what he was accused of,” she said.
Come Wednesday, families of Bulger’s alleged murder victims may get to testify whether Greig should get bail. It’s an unusual procedure.
“There are no victims of this defendant,” protested Greig’s attorney. But Judge Magistrate Jennifer Boal said the families are proximate victims and will testify — unless the defense can persuade her otherwise.
Throughout the proceeding, Greig’s twin sister Margaret McCusker sat uncomfortably. McCusker got caught lying to a grand jury about calls she received from her sister while in hiding. And Monday, the FBI agent revealed that back in 1995, McCusker had driven her sister to South Boston to meet Bulger and gave Greig her own driver’s license for false identity.
Outside the courthouse McCusker was swarmed by reporters.
“Margaret, they said that you delivered your sister to ‘Whitey’ Bulger to take off,” I told her.
“Did they say that?” she replied.
Reddington gets to cross-examine the government’s witness Wednesday. But getting Greig out on bail soon seems a very steep climb for another day of drama.