A Massachusetts State Judge and Court Officer are facing federal charges for helping an illegal immigrant escape arrest by immigration authorities. Judge Shelley Joseph and Court Officer Wesley MacGregor entered not guilty pleas Thursday in Boston Federal Court. Both are charged with obstruction of justice and other federal charges.

They are accused of allowing the twice-deported defendant to escape out the back door of a courthouse in Newton in April of 2018. Federal prosecutors said they did this knowing an ICE agent was in the courthouse, seeking to detain the defendant.

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson applauds the actions of the U.S. Attorney. He says for Andrew Lelling to do nothing would have sent a bad message.

"When a judge decides to let somebody out the back door to get away, when you know law enforcement is there and wants that person in their custody, sends a bad message to the people of this country that judges can undermine the laws of the United States," says Hodgson.

Hodgson says the actions of Judge Joseph were irresponsible and violated her oath of office. By letting the defendant escape, Hodgson says she exposed the community to possible harm. Both Joseph and MacGregor were released after their appearance in Federal Court.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts' attorney general is blasting federal prosecutors for charges brought against a state court judge accused of helping a man evade immigration detention. Attorney General Maura Healey called the indictment against Joseph and MacGregor a "radical and politically-motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts."

Healey said it is a "bedrock principle" of the constitutional system that "federal prosecutors should not recklessly interfere with the operation of state courts and their administration of justice." Healey says the matter could have been handled by the Commission on Judicial Conduct and the Trial Court.

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