Catherine Greig's attorney said she fell in love with a "Robin Hood like" figure, never believing in the 16 years she helped hide one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted fugitives that her outlaw boyfriend was a murderer.
The lawyer for the longtime girlfriend of Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger appealed Monday for leniency for his client, asking a federal judge to give her 27 months in prison at her sentencing Tuesday.
"Why people fall in love has been debated since before Shakespeare's sonnets," attorney Kevin Reddington wrote. "Many times people fall in love and their family or loved ones do not approve or condone the relationship. The truth of the matter is that she was and remained in love with Mr. Bulger."
The government recently asked for a 10-year prison sentence, following Greig's March guilty plea to charges of conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, identity fraud and conspiracy to commit identity fraud.
Greig faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, but probation officials recommended a prison sentence of 27 to 33 months, according to the defense's sentencing memo.
The defense attorney on Monday called his 61-year-old client a sweet and gentle woman who helped homeless animals, portraying Greig as a romantic whose feelings for Bulger swayed her actions.
"She was in love with him and believed him a man totally incapable of the things that were being said about him," the defense memo said.
Authorities captured the fugitive couple in Santa Monica, Calif., last June. Prosecutors say the pair posed as married retirees from Chicago and had a stash of more than $800,000 in cash and 30 weapons in their apartment, most of in hidden in the walls.
Bulger, now 82, is awaiting trial on charges he participated in 19 murders.
Greig's attorney also suggested Monday that the government was trying to "rectify the bungling" of their investigation and redeem themselves from bad publicity in the case.
Reddington said after the government struck a plea deal with Greig, officials faced criticism in the media from family members of those whom prosecutors say Bulger killed.
The defense attorney singled out Steven Davis, saying he spearheaded criticism that led to a post-plea effort by the government to give Greig a severe prison sentence. Davis is the brother of a 26-year-old woman whom authorities allege Bulger killed in 1981.
Greig's attorney also filed an objection Monday to a government request to allow Davis and other family members of Bulger's alleged victims to speak at her sentencing. He says they're not victims of Greig's crimes.
Firing back at the defense, Davis said Monday that a sentence of 27 months "would be the most ridiculous thing to ever come out of federal court."
He said he would speak at the courthouse Tuesday even if the judge decided he couldn't do it during Greig's sentencing.
"If we're not allowed to speak, they're gonna hear all the dirt outside," Davis, of Milton, said. "They want me to keep quiet? They're going to have to wait until I die."
Patricia Donahue, the widow of a man who died in a hail of bullets after prosecutors say Bulger opened fire on someone else in 1982, called the defense's request for 27 months in prison for Greig "a joke" that would encourage others to harbor criminals.
Donahue, of Boston, also said she was hoping to speak at Greig's sentencing.
"How are we not victims of the crime if she spent 16 years with the man responsible for my husband's death?" Donahue said.
Prosecutors have called Greig's conduct the most extreme case of harboring a criminal they've seen.
They said the former dental hygienist and dog groomer got money from Bulger to pay their rent and other bills, did all of their shopping and helped him get medical and dental care while on the run. Prosecutors said Greig also traveled through multiple states with him, taking on multiple fraudulent identities to help him stay on the run.