Thursday, Federal prosecutors charged a Massachusetts judge and court officer with conspiracy and obstruction, alleging they blocked an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer from arresting an illegal immigrant at a 2018 court proceeding.
The charges target Massachusetts District Court Judge Shelley Joseph and Massachusetts Trial Court Officer Wesley MacGregor, according to court papers filed Thursday.
The arrests mark the latest skirmish over immigration enforcement between President Trump’s administration and local governments who have resisted his crackdown.
The focus is on an April 2018 hearing in Newton District Court, outside Boston, where an Immigration and Customs Enforcement intended to arrest an unidentified suspected illegal immigrant from the Dominican Republic facing a drug charge.
They described a huddled conversation between the judge and the defendant’s lawyer in which Joseph asks, “ICE is gonna get him?” and later says, “I’m not gonna allow them to come in here.”
She then arranged for the suspect to be released through the court’s rear door while the ICE agent waited in the courtroom’s lobby for him to emerge.
Massachusetts US Attorney Andrew Lelling said the case was not intended to send a message to judges who take issue with courthouse arrests by ICE of illegal immigrants.
“We did not bring this case in response to the public debate over immigration enforcement,” he said. “This is is not a policy seminar, it’s a law enforcement action.”
Prosecutors said that during an April 2018 court hearing in Newton involving a person in the United States illegally and facing drug charges, the judge and court officer arranged to release the suspect through the court’s back door after telling an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer to wait for him in the lobby.
Representatives of the judge and court officer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The charges carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
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