BOSTON — The longtime girlfriend of mobster James "Whitey" Bulger was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison for helping one of the FBI's most-wanted men stay on the run for 16 years, a life her lawyer said she doesn't regret because she still loves Bulger.
Catherine Greig showed no emotion when U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock handed down the sentence after listening to emotional pleas from relatives of those Bulger is accused of killing. Bulger, the 82-year-old former leader of the notorious Winter Hill Gang, is awaiting trial on charges he participated in 19 murders.
Greig, 61, had pleaded guilty in March to charges of conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, identity fraud and conspiracy to commit identity fraud.
Greig's lawyer, Kevin Reddington, urged the judge to impose a sentence of a little over two years, arguing that Greig was in love with Bulger when she fled Boston with him in 1995.
"Catherine Greig fell in love with Mr. Bulger, and that's why she was in the situation she was in," Reddington said. "Miss Greig did not believe that Mr. Bulger was capable of these homicides."
But prosecutors dismissed her professions of love and said Greig had numerous opportunities to leave Bulger during their time on the run.
"This was not a romantic saga," U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said. "She helped and protected and concealed a fugitive."
Family members of those Bulger is accused of killing lashed out at Greig during victim impact statements, with one relative using an expletive to describe her. Another relative made a derogatory reference to her brother's suicide, prompting Greig to cover her mouth and fight back tears.
Tim Connors, the son of a man prosecutors say was killed by Bulger on June 12, 1975, called Greig "a cold-hearted criminal."
"You're as much a criminal as Whitey and should be treated as such," he said.
Patricia Donahue, the widow of Michael Donahue, a truck driver who prosecutors say was killed by Bulger in 1982, said she believes Greig is responsible for Bulger being able to remain a fugitive for so long.
"I believe he never would have survived all those years without her help," she said.
Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Greig to 10 years in prison, citing the length of time she helped Bulger and the number of things she did for him, including taking him to medical appointments, posing as his wife so she could pick up his prescriptions and using false identities.
Greig and Bulger posed as married retirees from Chicago and had a stash of more than $800,000 in cash and 30 weapons in their apartment when they were captured last June in Santa Monica, Calif.
The judge admonished Greig for her unfailing loyalty to Bulger.
"We are all responsible for what we do. We all make choices," Woodlock said. "There is a price to be paid."
Greig's lawyer had appealed for leniency, asking the judge to give her 27 months in prison. After the sentencing, Reddington told reporters that Greig has no regrets about what she did.
"He's the love of her life and she stands by him ... of course she doesn't regret it," Reddington said.
Greig, a former dental hygienist and dog groomer, faced a maximum of 15 years – five years on each of the three charges.
She had been with Bulger for more than three decades, first as a secret girlfriend he kept on the side while he lived with another woman, then as the faithful woman who left behind her life in Massachusetts so she could go on the run with him.
Greig's plea deal with prosecutors doesn't require her to cooperate in the case against Bulger. After she was sentenced, Ortiz said prosecutors aren't trying to compel her to testify against him.
"That's not something we're seeking," Ortiz said. "We indicted and we're ready to prosecute without her help."
In her plea agreement, Greig admitted that she used aliases, unlawfully obtained identification documents and repeatedly helped Bulger get prescription medication from a pharmacy by pretending to be his wife.
Greig and Bulger traveled extensively during their first year on the run – to Chicago, New York City, Grand Isle, La., and other places – but then settled in a two-bedroom rented apartment in Santa Monica.
Last June, Bulger and Greig were apprehended just days after the FBI began a new publicity campaign focusing on Greig.