James "Whitey" Bulger's longtime girlfriend is a subservient, "simple woman" whose only offense is a "crime of passion" she committed when she fell in love with the former Boston crime boss, her attorney said Wednesday as he asked a federal judge to release her on bail.
Catherine Greig's lawyer painted a picture of a frightened or meek woman who knew little or nothing about Bulger's crimes when she fled Boston with him in 1995. The couple was apprehended in Santa Monica, Calif., last month after 16 years on the run together.
Defense attorney Kevin Reddington questioned an FBI agent about statements made to authorities by people who met Greig and Bulger in Grand Isle, La., during their first two years as fugitives. At the time, Bulger was using the name Tom while Greig was going by Helen, FBI agent Michael Carazza said.
Carazza acknowledged that members of a family who befriended the couple said Bulger was harsh and controlling, and treated Greig like a servant.
"Tom would clap his hands as a signal to Helen that he needed her to get him something, and Helen would always respond quickly," Reddington said, reading from an FBI report describing an interview with the family.
But prosecutors portrayed Greig as an eager partner to Bulger, who willingly went on the run with him and actively helped him elude authorities for more than 16 years.
Assistant U.S. Attorney James Herbert asked Carazza about conversations Greig allegedly had with her hairdresser in Santa Monica about her relationship with Bulger, whom she referred to as her husband.
Carazza said Greig told the hairdresser she "liked bad boys."
"She said she knew her husband was a bad boy when she married him, but he's mellowed out now," Greig told the hairdresser, Carazza said.
Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal did not immediately rule on whether to keep Greig behind bars while she awaits trial on a charge of harboring a fugitive.
Reddington argued for her release, but then told Boal she would voluntarily remain locked up while he gathers more information to support his request that she be granted bail and placed on an electronic monitoring system.
The bail hearing featured vigorous arguments from both sides and emotional pleas from relatives of four people whom Bulger is accused of killing.
Tom Donahue, whose father, Michael Donahue, was allegedly gunned down by Bulger in 1982, called Greig a "creep" and said Bulger was her "partner in crime."
He said releasing her on bail would be "unjust and unbearable" to the families of the 19 people Bulger is accused of killing.
"The 16 years with her lover on the run were the 16 years that we cried," Donahue said.
Bulger's former top lieutenant, Kevin Weeks, called as a witness by Greig's lawyer, said Greig was not involved in Bulger's criminal enterprises, which allegedly included drugs, loan-sharking and extortion.
Weeks said Bulger had a reputation among some people in South Boston as a Robin Hood who kept drugs out of the neighborhood and helped old people. During questioning by a prosecutor, he also acknowledged that Bulger had a much different reputation among people who knew him.
"I don't know what she knew as far as his reputation," Weeks said of Greig. "She probably saw one side and other people saw another."
Reddington argued that when Greig left Boston with Bulger in 1995, he had only been charged with extortion in a racketeering indictment. The murder allegations were included in a separate racketeering indictment four years later.
"She has nothing to do with any of those murders or acts of violence," Reddington said.
"This woman is not a violent person. ... Her only crime is a crime of passion _ falling in love with this gentleman," he said.
Prosecutors argued that Greig could easily flee again if she is released on bail. Herbert cited testimony from Carazza, who said Greig picked up prescriptions for Bulger using a false name, was present while Bulger had photos taken of himself to make false identifications, and like Bulger, made secret phone calls to her family while they were on the run.
"The defendant learned the tricks of the fugitive trade," Herbert said.
"She was a willing, active participant in their joint effort to avoid arrest," he said.
Boal did not indicate when she would rule on Greig's bail request.