BOSTON – A federal grand jury returned an indictment today against a Cambridge man previously charged with making false statements during the Boston Marathon bombing terrorism investigation.
Robel Phillipos, 19, was indicted after having been previously charged via complaint in May with making a series of materially false statements to federal law enforcement officials during a terrorism investigation. Phillipos is charged with two counts of making false statements. The indictment also charges Dias Kadyrbayev, 19, and Azamat Tazhayakov, 19, both of New Bedford with conspiring to obstruct justice and obstructing justice with the intent to impede a terrorism investigation. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are both nationals of Kazakhstan who were temporarily living in the United States pursuant to student visas.
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 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.
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 today. This investigation was conducted by the FBI's Boston Division, the Massachusetts State Police, and member agencies of the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) which is comprised of more than 30 federal, state and local enforcement agencies. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Department of Public Safety, the City of New Bedford, New Bedford Police Department, Dartmouth Police Department, U.S. Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General, U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), Essex County Sheriff’s Office, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations provided assistance to this investigation.
If convicted, Phillipos faces a maximum penalty of up to eight years in federal prison on each of the two counts. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the obstruction of justice count and five years on the conspiracy count. All face up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for each charge. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov also face the possibility of being deported at the conclusion of this prosecution.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys B. Stephanie Siegmann and John A. Capin of Ortiz’s Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit with the assistance of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.