An unrepentant Catherine Greig remained loyal to her gangster boyfriend James “Whitey’’ Bulger to the end, voicing no regret Tuesday, even as she faced the furious families of his alleged victims and was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping him evade capture for more than 16 years.
The gray-haired, 61-year-old Greig showed no emotion as the judge announced her sentence. Minutes later, after she had shuffled out of the packed courtroom, her lawyer told reporters that her devotion to the 82-year-old Bulger remained unshaken and she “does not regret what she did in living her life with him.’’
“She’s in love with the guy; if she could be with the guy right now, she’d be with him,’’ said Kevin Reddington, Greig’s lawyer. He said Greig does not believe that Bulger, who is scheduled to stand trial in November for 19 murders, is capable of such horrible crimes. “She absolutely stands by her man,’’ he said.
But prosecutors, the sentencing judge, and the families of those who were allegedly slain by Bulger said the case was not about a love story, but about FBI corruption, murder, and an educated woman who helped a notorious gangster remain free for years while he remained a fixture on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.
“This was not a romantic saga,’’ US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in a press conference outside the federal courthouse in Boston. “Ms. Greig was no victim; she made choices of her own free will. As a result, now she’s paying the price for those choices that she made.’’
Bulger, a longtime FBI informant, fled shortly before his January 1995 federal racketeering indictment in Boston. Greig, a former dental hygienist who grew up in South Boston, joined him on the run about a month later.
She pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, conspiracy to commit identity fraud, and identity fraud.
US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock told Greig that she could have abandoned Bulger, but instead did his shopping, took him to medical appointments, and used various false identities while passing herself off as his wife, even knowing that he had stockpiled weapons and was prepared to use them if cornered.
“There’s a hard lesson involved . . . that is, we are all responsible for what we do,’’ Woodlock said to Greig, who solemnly nodded her head in agreement. He also ordered Greig to pay a $150,000 fine.
Greig will get credit for the year she has been held without bail and earn good-behavior time, which will make her eligible for release in about 5 1/2 years, Reddington said. Greig is being held at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I., and will probably serve her sentence at the federal prison in Danbury, Conn., he said.
Relatives of some of Bulger’s alleged victims said they wish Greig would have to serve more time, but felt the sentence was fair.
“I just hoped she would have turned around and looked at us and said she was sorry to be involved,’’ said Steve Davis, whose sister Debra Davis was allegedly strangled by Bulger in 1981.
Greig remained stoic through most of the hearing, but suddenly erupted in tears when the son of one of Bulger’s alleged victims raised the suicide of her brother as part of a personal attack on her character. She quickly regained her composure and made no eye contact with any of the family members of Bulger’s alleged victims, including her former nephew.
In an emotional statement, Paul McGonagle recounted how Greig became a beloved aunt after marrying his uncle in 1971, then when the marriage ended several years later hooked up with Bulger, who is accused of killing McGonagle’s father, Paul, in 1974.
“It is my family’s firm belief that Catherine Greig was aware of Bulger’s involvement in the murder of my father,’’ said McGonagle, adding that Greig betrayed them by helping his alleged killer remain free for so long.
Bulger was warned by retired FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. to flee just before his indictment. While on the run, Bulger’s corrupt relationship with the FBI was exposed, secret graves were unearthed, and murder charges were brought against him.
He was captured by the FBI Bulger Task Force, along with Greig, on June 22, 2011, in Santa Monica, Calif., where they had been living in the same rent-controlled apartment two blocks from the beach for 15 years. FBI agents seized 30 high-powered guns and $822,000 in cash that had been stuffed inside holes cut into the apartment walls and covered with photographs and mirrors. They also found documents for more than a dozen false identities used by the couple.
Assistant US Attorney Jack Pirozzolo, who had urged the judge to sentence Greig to 10 years, said Greig helped Bulger obtain identities from people who were suffering from alcoholism, drug addiction, or mental illness, paying them for identification documents.
“This was not someone who was merely along for the ride,’’ Pirozzolo said, calling Greig an active participant in the effort to keep Bulger from being captured. He said Greig had to know that Bulger had stockpiled weapons in their apartment because there were plaster marks on the walls where he had cut the holes to hide them.
He showed pages from a spiral notebook that had been seized from the couple’s Santa Monica apartment, with handwritten notes from Greig listing items needed for household repairs. It read: bathroom - cuts in wall; face masks, Hacksaw - cuts metal plastic; face masks (dust).
But Reddington, who had sought a 27-month sentence for Greig, said the notes were from classes that Greig took from a local woman, including one on how to replace a toilet.
The notebook included a page containing an advertisement that Greig had placed in a local newspaper seeking someone to adopt a cat she had nursed back to health, according to Reddington.
It read: “Cat lovers. A fluffy white cat has been surviving in our neighborhood for three months. (White with a pink harness)’’
Greig’s life with Bulger, Reddington told the judge, was living in their apartment, shopping, rescuing animals, and taking walks.
The judge told Greig that it is not too late to abandon Bulger and cooperate with the government at his upcoming trial. But, after Greig was led away in handcuffs, Reddington said in an interview in the hallway that she absolutely will not cooperate.
“She knows she had 16 years with the love of her life,’’ he said. “I’m sure she’s very settled with her choices.’’Milton J. Valencia of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Shelley Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.