Newton, Ma., Judge Shelley Joseph was offered a deal to avoid prosecution if she admitted she helped an illegal immigrant escape out a basement door in the courthouse to avoid Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents last year, the Boston Herald reports. The deal was offered by U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. Joseph, 51, was indicted last month on federal charges of obstruction of justice and interfering with a federal investigation. The state Supreme Judicial Court quickly suspended Joseph without pay. She was earning $184,694 a year.
Joseph faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of allowing the illegal immigrant to bolt out the basement door. Lelling said the illegal immigrant was captured about a month after the April 2, 2018, incident and is facing deportation proceedings. The indictment states the man had been previously deported in 2003 and 2007. Federal officials have faced criticism for charging a judge over an illegal immigrant case. Lelling said he doesn’t play favorites. “If the law is not applied equally, it cannot credibly be applied to anyone,” he said.