Girlfriend pleads guilty to aiding Mass. mobster

March 15, 2012 - 4:25 AM
Whitey Bulgers Girlfriend

Three sisters of Paul McGonagle leave a plea hearing for Catherine Greig, the longtime girlfriend of reputed Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger, outside the Federal Courthouse in Boston, Wednesday afternoon, March 14, 2012. Paul McGonagle is alleged to have been one of the 19 murders Bulger is accused of committing. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

BOSTON (AP) — Catherine Greig, the longtime girlfriend of mobster James "Whitey" Bulger, stared straight ahead and didn't turn to look as the brother of a woman allegedly killed by Bulger called her a "monster" for helping Bulger evade capture for more than 16 years.

Greig, 60, pleaded guilty Wednesday to helping Bulger evade authorities while they were on the run together.

In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Greig pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, identity fraud and conspiracy to commit identity fraud.

Bulger, who was captured with Greig last year in Santa Monica, Calif., has pleaded not guilty to charges of participating in 19 murders. His trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 5.

Steven Davis, whose 26-year-old sister, Debra Davis, was allegedly killed by Bulger, said Greig denied the families of Bulger's victims their opportunity to get justice for more than 16 years.

"This woman, she's not what she appears to be. She's a monster," Davis said during a victim impact statement.

"She kept him in hiding for all that time," he said.

Each of the three charges Greig pleaded guilty to carries a maximum sentence of five years, but prosecutors told families of people believed killed by Bulger that Greig could potentially face less than three years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.

Under the plea deal, prosecutors have agreed not to charge her with anything else. Although the plea agreement does not include an agreement by Greig to cooperate against Bulger, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said it does not preclude prosecutors from seeking to compel her testimony.

Ortiz would not reveal what sentence prosecutors plan to seek when Greig is sentenced on June 12, but said it would be "significant." She said the harboring charge against Greig was unusual both in the number of things she did to help him and the length of time involved. Typically, she said, the charge is brought against someone who does a single thing to help a fugitive, such as provide a car or hide the person in their basement.

"Here, she protected and aided this individual for 16 years," Ortiz said.

As part of her plea agreement, Greig admitted she had used aliases, unlawfully obtained identification documents, and repeatedly helped Bulger obtain prescription medication from a pharmacy by claiming to be his wife.

In a statement of facts filed in court Monday, Greig acknowledged that she agreed to join Bulger on the run beginning in early 1995.

"I 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," the document states.

Bulger, now 82, headed Boston's notorious Winter Hill Gang and also was a longtime FBI informant who gave the agency information on the rival New England Mafia. Bulger's former FBI handler, John Connolly Jr., was convicted of warning him that he was about to be indicted, prompting him to flee Boston in late 1994.

Bulger and Greig were caught in June, just days after the FBI began a new publicity campaign focusing on Greig and aimed at a female audience. The FBI said on Greig's wanted poster that she frequented beauty salons and had well-kept teeth and multiple plastic surgeries. The Boston Globe has reported that the tipster who reported the couple's whereabouts was a woman from Iceland who spent months at a time in Santa Monica and had bonded with Greig over a stray cat.

Greig, a former dental hygienist, has been held in jail since her arrest. During a bail hearing in July, her lawyer described her as a subservient woman who was in love with Bulger and unaware of the extent of his crimes when she fled with him.

During her plea hearing, Greig broke down in tears when U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock, while questioning her about her background, asked if she had ever received psychological treatment. She said she had received counseling in 1984 after a family member committed suicide.

Patricia Donahue, who says her husband, Michael, was killed by Bulger, said afterward that Greig's tears didn't make up for helping Bulger.

"Where was she when I was crying?" Donahue said. "I don't think she's a monster. I think that she just made a lot of bad choices, and those choices hurt a lot of people."