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Mass. Judge Accused Of Helping Immigrant Evade ICE Arrest Rejects Plea Deal

District Court Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph departs federal court in Boston after facing obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping a man in the country illegally evade immigration officials as he left her Newton courthouse after a hearing in 2018. (Steven Senne/AP)
District Court Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph departs federal court in Boston after facing obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping a man in the country illegally evade immigration officials as he left her Newton courthouse after a hearing in 2018. (Steven Senne/AP)

A suspended Newton district court judge accused of helping an undocumented immigrant evade arrest has rejected a plea deal from the government, according to new filings in Boston federal court.

Judge Shelley Joseph was charged by federal prosecutors with obstruction of justice in April.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling's office offered plea deals to both Joseph and retired court officer Wesley MacGregor, who was also charged in the case. The pair are accused of helping a man previously identified as Jose Medina Perez slip out a back door of the Newton District Court, where an immigration officer was waiting to arrest him.

"Through counsel, the government has extended plea offers to the defendants. Defendant Joseph rejected the offer extended to her," a joint memo filed Tuesday said.

MacGregor has not yet responded to the government's plea deal.

Joseph and MacGregor face three different obstruction charges: conspiracy, aiding and abetting, and obstruction of a federal proceeding.

MacGregor, a trial court officer from 1993 until his retirement last month, was additionally charged with perjury for allegedly lying to the grand jury when he said he wasn't aware of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer in the courthouse that day.

Both defendants pleaded not guilty in April and were released.

Lelling came under fire for his decision to charge a sitting judge with a federal crime but insisted this case is neither an indictment on the state's trial court system nor about immigration policy.

“It is about the rule of law,” Lelling said.

“We did not bring this case in response to the public debate over immigration enforcement. There are reasonable arguments on both sides of that debate,” he added. “But this isn’t a policy seminar, it’s a law enforcement action.”

The new filing stated that a trial is likely.

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Shannon Dooling Twitter Reporter
Shannon Dooling is a reporter representing WBUR on a team of public radio station journalists in the New England News Collaborative.

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