BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com/AP) – A federal grand jury has indicted a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev previously charged with making false statements during the Boston Marathon bombing terrorism investigation.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Boston Field Division, made the announcement Thursday.
Robel Phillipos, 19, of Cambridge, is charged with two counts of making false statements. If convicted, Phillipos faces a maximum of eight years in prison.
The indictment also charges 19-year-old Dias Kadyrbayev and 19-year-old Azamat Tazhayakov, both of New Bedford, with conspiring to obstruct justice and obstructing justice with the intent to impede a terrorism investigation.
As alleged in the indictment, on April 18, 2013, after the FBI posted photographs of the two men suspected of carrying out the Marathon bombings, who were later identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Kadyrbayev received a text message from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev suggesting that he go to Tsarnaev's "room and take what's there."
Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov, and Phillipos, according to the indictment, went to Tsarnaev's dormitory room and removed several items, including Tsarnaev's laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks, and brought them to Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov's apartment in New Bedford. Later that night, Kadyrbayev, with Tazhayakov's knowledge and agreement, placed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's backpack, which contained several items, including fireworks, in a garbage bag and placed it in a dumpster outside their New Bedford apartment.
The indictment further alleges that between April 19 and April 25, 2013, law enforcement officials assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force interviewed Phillipos concerning material facts related to the terrorism investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing and one of the suspected bombers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. During these interviews, Phillipos alegedly concealed the fact that he, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov had gone into Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dormitory room on the evening of April 18 and removed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's backpack from his room. In so doing, he made numerous false and misleading statements to the agents.
Phillipos' lawyers say he had nothing to do with taking the backpack and that "in time, it will be clear that this prosecution should not have been brought in the first place."
In arguing for bail in May, Phillipos' lawyers portrayed him as a frightened and confused young man "who was subjected to intense questioning and interrogation, without the benefit of counsel, and in the context of one of the worst attacks against the nation."
Friends and relatives have described him in court documents as a considerate and thoughtful person who was the son of a single mother who emigrated from Ethiopia to the United States.