Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said on December 3 that District Court Judge Shelley Joseph, who is being investigated concerning suspicions that she helped an illegal alien evade federal ICE authorities, should not be handling criminal cases while a review of her actions is underway.
According to witnesses at the courthouse, Joseph may have helped an illegal alien, Jose Medina-Perez (aka Oscar Manuel Peguero) leave her court and slip away from an ICE agent who was in the building waiting to detain Perez and start the deportation process. When the Boston Globe contacted a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling, she said she could not confirm or deny the existence of a grand jury being called to investigate Joseph’s conduct.
Speaking to reporters at the State House, Baker, who nominated Joseph to the judgeship, called the event “extremely troubling.”
“I don’t believe she should be hearing criminal cases until that federal case is resolved,” Baker said, adding that there is precedent for court officials taking such action.
Last April, Medina-Perez was arrested by Newton police on drug charges, faced a fugitive warrant for drunken driving in Pennsylvania, and was also named in a detainer from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
As Medina-Perez was brought before Joseph, an ICE agent was in the courthouse, waiting to detain him and start the deportation process.
“ICE is going to get him,” the Globe quoted the judge’s statement to the attorneys during the April 2 sidebar conversation. “What if we continue [the case]?” she suggested, before instructing a clerk to turn off the courtroom’s audio recorder.
The Globe reported that just minutes after that, Medina-Perez was escorted downstairs, released from custody, and allowed out a back door. He then climbed a fence and escaped, leaving the ICE agent behind, according to two people familiar with the event.
Medina-Perez was arrested later in April in the Roslindale section of Boston. He was released on bond by an immigration judge and his case is pending, according to ICE officials. It then was learned that his real name is Oscar Manuel Peguero and he is a citizen of the Dominican Republic. Officials said Peguero was deported twice before — in January 2003 and June 2007. After an alien has been legally removed from the United States, federal criminal law makes it a felony for that alien to reenter the country.