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10-year sentence sought for ‘Whitey’ Bulger’s girlfriend

Prosecutors point to false IDs, stash of cash and guns

Federal prosecutors are arguing that Catherine Greig, the girlfriend of James “Whitey’’ Bulger, should serve 10 years in prison for helping the notorious gangster stay on the lam for 16 years, an indication that they will show no sympathy when she is sentenced on Tuesday.

Under the government’s proposed sentence, Greig, 61, would also have to pay a $150,000 fine and serve three years of probation following her release from prison.

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The recommendation was seen by legal analysts as being aggressive, and it more than triples the 33 months that Greig would face under probation department calculations.

Prosecutors said they were accounting for the nature of Bulger’s alleged crimes, as well as what Greig and Bulger had done to remain at large: they allegedly bought identifications from homeless people with substance abuse problems, for instance, and prosecutors say Greig knew of Bulger’s guns and cash.

US District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock is slated to hand out a sentence on Tuesday, nearly a year after Greig and Bulger were arrested at their apartment in Santa Monica, Calif., after 16 years in hiding.

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“There is a particularly acute need in this case to impose a serious sentence in order to promote respect for the law,’’ First Assistant US Attorney Jack W. Pirozzolo said in court documents filed Friday, citing the anguish of Bulger’s alleged victims while he was a fugitive, waiting for him to be brought to justice.

“For over 16 years, Greig conspired to, and did, protect Bulger - alleged to be one of the most dangerous and violent criminals in the history of this district - from being discovered by law enforcement.’’

Greig’s lawyer, Kevin Reddington, would not comment on the sentencing proposal Friday, and has not recommended a sentence to the court. Greig’s twin sister Margaret McCusker did not return a call for comment.

The arrest of Bulger and Greig last year ended what had been one of the most captivating manhunts in FBI history.

The former head of the Winter Hill Gang fled the area in 1994, when he was tipped off by his corrupt FBI handlers that he was about to be indicted. He was later charged in a superseding indictment that exposed his scandalous relationship with the FBI.

Greig, who joined Bulger on the run in 1995, pleaded guilty in March to charges that she helped him while at large. She faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of three convictions: conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, conspiracy to commit identity fraud, and identity fraud.

Prosecutors said in court records that their recommended sentence was based in large part on the actions of Greig and Bulger to remain on the lam, including paying vagrants to use their identifications, $200 in some instances. They also bought a suitcase for one woman who, prosecutors said, was a transient. In total, they used the identifications of six people in Santa Monica.

“All of them . . . suffer, or suffered, from mental illness or substance abuse problems,’’ prosecutors said in court documents.

The court documents also disclose for the first time that Bulger had selected Santa Monica, where the couple had been living since 1996, because he had visited before and “it was a cosmopolitan location with a number of transient and homeless people and vacationers.’’

Prosecutors say Greig was Bulger’s partner on the run, and she managed daily tasks, paid the rent, and brought him to the doctor’s office. The documents also describe their life as fugitives: Greig accompanied Bulger to the doctor’s office to keep his anger in check because he suffered high anxiety and had a fear of injections - he described himself in one hospital form as a “dental chicken, from Chicago.’’

According to the court documents, Bulger was also aware of his publicity: He kept several books, including works by his associates Kevin Weeks and Patrick Nee. Bulger had drafted a manuscript of his life, in which he mentions hitman John Martorano’s appearance on television.

Bulger, according to the documents, told authorities that he had been aware of the public service announcement that had focused on Greig and led to their arrest in June, 2011. Bulger had told her, “this is it,’’ according to the documents.

Steve Davis, the brother of Debra Davis, one of Bulger’s alleged victims, said Friday that he welcomed the 10-year recommendation, though he would even ask for more, saying Greig helped Bulger stay on the run when she knew of his alleged crimes and that he was wanted by authorities.

“She knew everything,’’ said Davis, whose sister was allegedly strangled by Bulger in 1981 and buried under the Neponset River Bridge because she wanted to leave her boyfriend, Bulger’s associate Stevie Flemmi, and because she knew too much.

Davis added Greig “chose to leave with him. She knew exactly what she was getting into before she was getting into that vehicle’’ to flee.

Donald K. Stern, former US attorney, who held that post when Bulger was first indicted on racketeering charges in 1995, and when Greig was first charged in 1997, said the sentencing guidelines for Greig are bound to be heavily scrutinized at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing. The defense and prosecutors will probably debate, for instance, whether Greig should face more severe punishment for Bulger’s cash and drugs.

But what is clear, he said, is “the government is looking for a very stiff sentence.’’

“We know she harbored a fugitive for 16 years, who was and is accused of 19 murders,’’ he said.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at MValencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MiltonValencia
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