Whitey Bulger’s Girlfriend Avoids Trial With Guilty Plea, Angers His Victims
Relatives of the victims of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger are outraged that girlfriend Catherine Greig will receive no more than 32 months in jail. By T.J. English.
Dressed in blue prison fatigues over a long-sleeved white T-shirt, her gray hair cropped short, Greig was a figment of her former self. An attractive woman who once lavished money on various surgical procedures to further enhance her beauty, Greig’s vanities have been punctured—if not decimated—by nine months of maximum-security incarceration. The permanent tan she acquired after 16 years on the lam with Bulger in such sunny climes as the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Santa Monica, California—where she and the Most Wanted gangster were apprehended in June—is long gone now, replaced by the permanent gray pallor of a convict.
As had been leaked to the media earlier in the week, Greig was in U.S. District Court in Boston to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, conspiracy to commit identity fraud, and identity fraud. By signing a statement that she “engaged in conduct that was intended to help Bulger avoid detection from law enforcement and to provide him with support and assistance during his flight from law enforcement,” Greig avoids a trial and any further charges U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz may have been planning to bring against her.
Bulger, currently in prison at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility, faces 19 counts of murder stemming from his 20-year reign as the mob boss of Boston. After he was indicted on racketeering charges and fled with Greig in January 1995, it was revealed that Bulger also had been a confidential FBI informant since 1975.
Last June, when Bulger and Greig were arrested in Santa Monica—after a tip from a woman who had spotted Greig at a local beauty parlor—federal agents found an arsenal of weapons on the premises, along with more than $800,000 in cash hidden in the wall of the apartment.
Known as a bright but subservient woman, Greig is believed to have had little involvement in Bulger’s life as a racketeer. She enjoyed the financial largesse of his criminal pursuits without having to partake of his crimes, until they set out together on the lam. For 16 years, Bulger and Greig lived as con artists, opening bank accounts and making medical appointments and purchases under false identities, using stolen birth certificates and Social Security numbers to create fraudulent identities.
Wednesday, at the Moakley Courthouse in Boston, Greig was brought into court in handcuffs, which were removed once she was seated at the defense table. The hearing lasted just over one hour. Greig showed emotion only once, when Judge Douglas Woodlock asked her a series of routine questions about her health.
“Have you ever sought or been through psychiatric evaluation or therapy?” asked the judge.
“One time,” said Greig. She attempted to explain that she sought therapy following the suicide of a family member but was too overcome with emotion to finish her sentence. As Greig wept openly, her attorney, Kevin Reddington, seated beside her at the defense table, patted her on her shoulder.
Greig regained her composure and listened without emotion as prosecutor Jack Pirozzolo outlined details of the charges against her. Later, after it was explained to Greig that she still could be called to testify in a criminal proceeding against Bulger, and that her sentencing would be determined by the judge irrespective of the guilty plea, Judge Woodlock asked, “Do you understand that?”
“I do, your honor,” responded Greig.
After Greig entered her plea and the hearing ended, she was again handcuffed by a court officer. On the way out of court, she waved to her twin sister, Margaret Greig, who had observed the proceeding from the front row of the spectators’ gallery.
Outside the courtroom, family members of victims of Bulger’s many alleged murders vented their frustration. Steve Davis, brother of Debra Davis, who, at the age of 26, allegedly was strangled by Bulger, called Greig “a monster.” In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, Davis said, “For 30 years my family has been waiting for justice to prevail. That woman helped keep a mass murderer at large. She knew exactly what she was doing. She doesn’t deserve a break.”
U.S. Attorney Ortiz, speaking to the press following the hearing, denied that Greig had received any kind of “sweetheart deal.” Said Ortiz, “We believe that bringing this to a swift conviction is in the best interest of justice.”
Ortiz noted that Greig faces a maximum charge of five years on each count to which she pled guilty. The sentences, however, would run concurrently, meaning that even if she receives the maximum sentence, Greig is unlikely to receive more than 32 months, of which she has already served nine.
Says Steve Davis, “For 16 years, the families been paying for her actions, suffering, not knowing. For what? So Catherine Greig can be back on the street in two years? It ain’t fair.”
Greig is due back in Judge Woodlock’s courtroom to be sentenced on June 12.