July 11, 2011 -- Catherine Greig and her long-time boyfriend, ex-mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger, used dozens of aliases in the years he was on the lam, an FBI agent testified in a Boston court today.
Greig, who gave her front row-seated sister a big smile as she entered court in a blue prison-issued top and pants, appeared before a judge in U.S. District Court today with Bulger's alleged victims also in attendance.
In attempting to show that Greig, 60, was a full and willing partner in Bulgar's attempts to conceal their identities and hide from the law, FBI agent Michael Carazza testified that Greig and Bulger fled Boston for Louisiana, where they were called Helen and Tom.
Bulger would make calls on pay phones at Walmart using calling cards, Carazza said.
The government also showed a brief video of Greig entering a pharmacy and picking up medication for Bulger that was under an assumed name.
Late last week, Greig's lawyer, Kevin Reddington, filed papers requesting bail and home confinement for his client. Reddington described Greig in court documents as a "kind, gentle person" who is "not a danger to anyone."
But the gray-haired Greig, who looks more like a grandmother than a gangster's moll, spent 16 years on the run with one of the most feared and reviled mobsters in Boston's history. And the quiet, former dental hygienist, who now sits in a Rhode Island jail cell charged with harboring a fugitive, could face up to five years in prison.
So just how did Catherine Elizabeth Greig wind up here?
Greig was born in 1951 and grew up in blue-collar South Boston. Her relationship with Bulger began in the late 1970s. Greig, a stunning platinum blond with piercing blue eyes, had been married to another South Boston man named Bobby McGonagle, but after they divorced Greig took up with Bulger and never looked back. Ron Gollobin, a former television reporter who spent decades covering Bulger and his gangs, said it's hard to know how much Greig knew about what Whitey and his fellow gangsters did for a living.
"I covered lots of Mafia guys, the Angiulos and others, and they would say, "My wife never asked me what I do for a living. A good wife ain't supposed to know what you're doing."... You see the meetings and the armpit phone calls of course, but ... don't ask, don't tell," said Gollobin.
The couple lived in a small gray-and-white house with a white picket fence on Hillcrest Road in Quincy, Mass. Greig still owns the small Cape house that is now valued at $323,000. Reddington has said his client would put up the home as collateral if she were to be released.
Greig was known in the neighborhood for her love of dogs and for her beauty routines. The former dental hygienist reportedly had her teeth cleaned once a month and had her hair regularly dyed and styled at local hair salons. Her nails were always manicured.
In 1995, rogue FBI agents tipped Bulger off that he was about to be indicted on racketeering charges, and the couple disappeared shortly thereafter.
The FBI periodically published accounts of what came to be known as 'Whitey" sightings. From London to Louisiana, people across the globe reported seeing the mobster and his moll. Bulger soon made the FBI's Most Wanted List -- along with Osama bin Laden. Greig made it too -- just not the Top 10.
The years slipped away. First it was five, then 10, then 16 years since Bulger and Greig had first disappeared. The last credible sighting of the couple came almost a decade ago in 2002 in London. And many long-time Bulger watchers began to believe the FBI really didn't want to catch "Whitey" at all. After all, when it came out that Bulger had been a long-time FBI informant and that FBI agents had tipped him off time and again so that he could avoid arrest, it became a huge embarrassment for Boston feds.
But less than a month ago, on June 21, the FBI released a new public service announcement that aired in 14 U.S.cities during such television shows as ABC's "The View" and "Dr. Phil." This time the FBI zeroed in on Catherine Greig. The 30-second PSAs included multiple photos of Greig, and asked the public for help in finding her. The idea was that women who watched these daytime television shows might have seen Greig getting her hair or nails done.
Bulger and Greig Arrested in Rent-Controlled Condo
Many in Boston remain suspicious of the timing -- both of the ad campaign and the arrest. "My question is, why didn't they do it sooner? She was a very distinctive woman, stunning even at 60. He looked like any old man with a baseball hat. Put a baseball cap on me, I look like 'Whitey,'" said Gollobin. "There is an irony that it was ultimately Catherine who brought him down."
As to what held Greig and Bulger together all these years, Gollobin said it may have been simple: The tough gangster couldn't go it alone on the run. "He needed help to get medication, to go shopping. When you are on the lam you don't want to draw attention to yourself. You can't just go out and go to stores. It looked like she did a pretty good job of helping him with all of that.
Since June 22, Greig has been held at the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I. Her only previous court appearance revealed a woman who looked older than her 60 years, with graying hair and a slightly stooped walk. Greig offered her twin sister, Margaret McCusker, a small smile during her last court appearance on June 24 but otherwise seemed subdued and frightened.
In a court filing, Reddington has said his client could be monitored with an electronic bracelet. and that she has close ties to family members, including McCusker, who would support her.
But prosecutors are likely to argue that any defendant who has just spent 16 years in hiding with a man wanted for murder is a likely flight risk.