Updated at: 05/17/2013 4:36 PM
By DENISE LAVOIE
(AP) BOSTON - The longtime girlfriend of reputed gangster James "Whitey" Bulger lost her bid to reduce the eight-year prison sentence she received for helping Bulger during his 16 years as a fugitive.
A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Friday that it found no basis to change the sentence that Catherine Greig received after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, identity fraud and conspiracy to commit identity fraud. The panel included retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter.
Bulger, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, fled Boston in late 1994 and remained a fugitive until he and Greig were captured together in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.
Prosecutors say Greig helped Bulger in multiple ways while he was hiding from law enforcement.
Bulger, 83, is scheduled to go on trial in June on charges that he participated in 19 murders.
Greig’s appellate attorney, Dana Curhan, had argued that the sentencing judge "effectively tripled" the appropriate sentence for Grieg. He said Judge Douglas Woodlock gave her too much time on the fugitive-harboring charge and wrongly imposed sentencing enhancements related to firearms and obstruction of justice. In court documents, Curhan also argued that five victims of Bulger’s alleged crimes should not have been allowed to testify during her sentencing hearing.
"We disagree with it, but the court has spoken and we are going to review our options," Curhan said Friday.
Options include asking for a hearing before the full court or asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
In its written ruling, the appeals court agreed with Woodlock, who found that Greig’s conduct was not limited to mere harboring.
"He also noted that Greig provided Bulger with `a variety of things,’ over and above mere shelter," Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson wrote for the court. "The judge referenced the length of the pair’s time on the run, the heinous nature of the crimes Bulger is accused of committing, Greig’s capacity to make her own choices, and the fact that a less serious sentence would promote disrespect for the law."
Thompson wrote that the record "provides a good deal of support" for the judge’s sentencing calculations.
The appeals court also noted that Greig traveled across the country with Bulger for a long period of time, used false identities, helped Bulger perpetuate his aliases and settled with him in California, where she paid the bills, helped him get medical treatment and prescription medications, and maintained their home.
"Her handling of these tasks undoubtedly helped Bulger keep his public outings to a minimum, thus reducing his risk of detention," the court said.
Greig’s former lawyer, Kevin Reddington, had asked for a sentence of a little over two years. Reddington said she had fallen in love with a "Robin Hood-like" figure and never believed in the years she helped hide him that Bulger was a murderer.
"We are pleased with the Court’s decision and that Catherine Greig will be held accountable for her conduct," U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)