Federal judge refuses to release lien on house of Catherine Greig’s sister

A federal judge today refused to release a lien on the South Boston home of Catherine Greig’s sister, saying Greig has an interest in the property that could be seized by the government when she is sentenced next month for harboring James “Whitey” Bulger during his years on the run.

Margaret McCusker, Greig’s 61-year-old twin sister, had argued that the lien on the home – in which she has a majority interest – had disrupted her finances, saying it prevented her from accessing a home equity line of credit, for example.

But US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock said this morning from the bench that there was no immediate need to release the lien, because McCusker has no plans to sell the property. He said the lien issue would be resolved once he sentences Greig June 12 on charges of identity fraud and harboring Bulger, the notorious alleged gangster who is accused of killing 19 people.

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“I’m not sure the timing is right,” the judge said.

He also raised suspicions about recent transactions relating to the property, questioning whether Greig and McCusker were trying to circumvent creditors – including the courts – when Greig sold her interest in the property to McCusker last year for only $1.

When McCusker’s attorney, Richard Lane, pressed for a hearing on the transaction, Woodlock warned that such a hearing could show “whether or not there has been fraud committed in those transactions. You’ve asked for a hearing, you’ll get it.”

Lane withdrew his request for a hearing but denied any fraud in the transaction, saying later, “It was done on the record. We weren’t concealing or hiding anything.”

McCusker appeared irked at times during the hearing, particularly when prosecutors questioned her need for funds.

“What do you think, I’m going to take the money?” she said after the hearing of the prosecutors’ attitude.

“I never thought it would be this difficult, but I love my sister,” she said. “I’m so glad she’s home, and she’s got a wonderful attitude.”

Greig, who has been held without bail since she and Bulger were arrested last June in Santa Monica, Calif., after 16 years on the run, faces up to 5 years in prison and a fine as high as $250,000 for each of three charges she faces: conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, conspiracy to commit identity fraud, and identity fraud.

She pleaded guilty to helping Bulger remain a fugitive, even while he was one of the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” fugitives, by helping him use fake identification to do everyday things like go to the doctor and obtain prescription medications.