The longtime companion of convicted Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger pleaded not guilty today to federal contempt charges for refusing to tell a grand jury who helped them go on the lam.
It was the first time Catherine Greig was seen in her native South Boston neighborhood since the couple fled in 1995 and became fugitives.
Wearing blue prison scrubs, her white hair cut close, Catherine Greig, 64, waved enthusiastically to her sister Margaret as she was led into federal court on criminal contempt charges for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury "investigation into third parties who assisted and harbored" Bulger while the couple hid for 16 years until their arrest in 2011 at a Santa Monica, California, hideout, where authorities said they were using the pseudonyms Charlie and Carol Gasko.
Bulger, 86, was found guilty in 2013 in connection with 11 murders, drug dealing, extortion and other charges connected to the violence he unleashed on Boston for decades while also secretly working as a longtime top echelon informant for the FBI field office in Boston. He is serving two life sentences.
Greig's attorney, Kevin Reddington, called the latest charges against Greig "a form of harrassment" and pointed out that Greig could be forced to serve more time than some of the killers who worked under Bulger in the Winter Hill Gang. Hitman John Martorano, who confessed to killing 20 people, served 12 years in federal prison as part of a federal plea agreement and is now a fixture at some high-end Boston eateries.
"She's in good spirits," Reddington said of his client. "She is looking forward to the trial. She has done nothing wrong."
Steve Davis, whose sister, Debbie Davis, was among the victims Bulger was charged with murdering in 1981, said seeing Greig in court made him "sick to my stomach." Bulger was not convicted of killing Davis but her body was recovered in a shallow grave near the Neponset River in what has been dubbed the "Bulger graveyard."
Federal prosecutors said Greig refused to cooperate with a grand jury investigation probing anyone who may have helped her and Bulger hide as fugitives for 16 years. Reddington said she has "nothing to offer" investigators.
Greig pleaded guilty in 2012 to federal charges of harboring a fugitive and identity theft and was sentenced to 8 years, a sentence she is serving at a minimum-security prison in Minnesota. Last month, federal prosecutors in Boston charged her with criminal contempt for what the FBI said is hindering an investigation into who helped the couple hide.
"Catherine Greig has yet again failed to do the right thing," FBI Special Agent Joseph Bonavolonta said in a statement after the charges were announced. "Her refusal to testify has hindered the FBI's efforts to seek justice for the victims of his crimes. Our efforts to find those who assisted them during their lives as fugitives will not stop despite the fact that Ms. Greig has refused to testify."
Reddington told ABC News earlier that the government is targeting Greig "in a vindictive and harassing way." He pointed out that the prosecutor who is investigating his client was among the attendees at a red carpet premiere of "Black Mass," a movie based on the book by the same name by former Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerry O'Neill chronicling Bulger's rise from street thug to mob boss with the help of crooked FBI handlers.
"Prosecutors are going to the movies while they are trying to send my client to jail for a longer period of time," Reddington said.
Assistant United States Attorney Fred Wyshak attended last month's red carpet cast premiere of "Black Mass." Wyshak told ABC News at the event that he enjoyed the movie. Bulger worked as a paid FBI informant starting in 1975, along with his top lieutenant, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.
Wyshak's character in "Black Mass" was played by actor Corey Stoll. Wyshak attended the premiere with his wife and former federal prosecutor Brian Kelly.