Bulger girlfriend offers glimpse of her defense

By Denise Lavoie
AP Legal Affairs Writer / July 14, 2011

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He clapped his hands and she jumped. He was harsh and controllingshe was kind and gentle. He kept 30 guns in holes he had carved into the wallsshe didn't know about the arsenal.
During a bail hearing Wednesday for Catherine Greig -- the longtime girlfriend of former Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger -- her attorney portrayed her as a woman who was subservient to Bulger and knew little about the extent of his crimes. The details that emerged during the hearing could provide a glimpse into what Greig's defense will be to a charge of harboring a fugitive.
"This woman is not a violent person. ... Her only crime is a crime of passion -- falling in love with this gentleman," attorney Kevin Reddington said during the hearing.
Bulger, the former leader of the notorious Winter Hill Gang, became one of the nation's most wanted fugitives after he fled Boston in late 1994, just before he was indicted on racketeering charges. Authorities said he was warned about the coming indictment by former Boston FBI Agent John Connolly Jr., who was later convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice for protecting Bulger, who was also a top-echelon criminal informant for the FBI.
Greig is accused of helping Bulger elude authorities during their 16 years on the run together. The couple was arrested last month in a modest apartment in Santa Monica, Calif., where authorities say they found more than $800,000 in cash and dozens of guns hidden in the walls.
Reddington painted a picture of a frightened or meek woman who knew little about Bulger's crimes when she fled Boston with him.
Reddington questioned an FBI agent about statements made to authorities by people who met Greig and Bulger in Grand Isle, La., during their first two years as fugitives. At the time, Bulger was using the name Tom while Greig was going by Helen, FBI agent Michael Carazza said.
Carazza acknowledged that members of a family who befriended the couple said Bulger was harsh and controlling, and treated Greig like a servant.
"Tom would clap his hands as a signal to Helen that he needed her to get him something, and Helen would always respond quickly," Reddington said, reading from an FBI report describing an interview with the family.
Prosecutors, however, portrayed Greig as an eager partner to Bulger who willingly went on the run with him and actively helped him elude authorities.
Assistant U.S. Attorney James Herbert asked Carazza about conversations Greig allegedly had with her hairdresser in Santa Monica about her relationship with Bulger, whom she referred to as her husband.
Carazza said Greig told the hairdresser she "liked bad boys."
"She said she knew her husband was a bad boy when she married him, but he's mellowed out now," Greig told the hairdresser, Carazza said.
Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal did not immediately rule on whether to keep Greig behind bars while she awaits trial on a charge of harboring a fugitive.
Reddington argued for her release, but then told Boal she would voluntarily remain locked up while he gathers more information to support his request that she be granted bail and placed on an electronic monitoring system.
Relatives of four people Bulger is accused of killing were allowed to give victim impact statements during the hearing.
Tom Donahue, whose father, Michael Donahue, allegedly was gunned down by Bulger in 1982, called Greig a "creep" and said releasing her on bail would be "unjust and unbearable" to the families of the 19 people Bulger is accused of killing.
"The 16 years with her lover on the run were the 16 years that we cried," Donahue said.
Steve Davis, whose sister Debra was allegedly strangled by Bulger in 1981, called Greig "an evil woman" and told Boal that Greig "does not deserve freedom for assisting America's most wanted criminal for the last 16 years."
Reddington argued that when Greig left Boston with Bulger in 1995, he had only been charged with extortion in a racketeering indictment. The murder allegations were included in a separate racketeering indictment four years later.
"She has nothing to do with any of those murders or acts of violence," Reddington said.
Bulger's former top lieutenant, Kevin Weeks, called as a witness by Reddington, said Greig was not involved in Bulger's criminal enterprises, which allegedly included drugs, loan-sharking and extortion.
Weeks said Bulger had a reputation among some people in South Boston as a Robin Hood who kept drugs out of the neighborhood and helped old people. During questioning by a prosecutor, he also acknowledged that Bulger had a much different reputation among people who knew him.
"I don't know what she knew as far as his reputation," Weeks said of Greig. "She probably saw one side and other people saw another."
Prosecutors cited statements from people who knew the couple in Louisiana who said Greig would go on long walks by herself. Carazza was asked if those friends ever said Greig was held captive by Bulger.
"They never indicated that," Carazza said.
Herbert argued that Greig could easily flee again if she is released on bail. He cited testimony from Carazza, who said Greig picked up prescriptions for Bulger using a false name, was present while Bulger had photos taken of himself to make false identification, and like Bulger, made secret phone calls to her family while they were on the run.
"The defendant learned the tricks of the fugitive trade," Herbert said.
"She was a willing, active participant in their joint effort to avoid arrest," he said.
Boal did not indicate when she would rule on Greig's bail request.