3 pals of Boston Marathon bombing suspect charged with coverup
Three college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were charged Wednesday with removing items from his dorm room or lying about it to the feds.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev were been charged with conspiring to obstruct justice. Robel Philipos was charged with making false statements, federal authorities said.
A hearing was scheduled for sometime after 3 p.m. in Boston.
Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev had been detained April 20 on immigration charges. Philipos was later taken into custody.
The men allegedly recognized Dzhokhar, 19, from video of the bombing scene released by the FBI and texted him about it, a criminal complaint said. His responses included the messages "lol," "you better not text me" and "come to my room and take whatever you want," the court document said.
The trio went to Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, where they were let in by his roommate.
The trio spotted a backpack containingseven red tubes of fireworks that had been emptied of their explosive powder and Kadyrbayev decided to take it, according to a criminal complaint. They also took a laptop because they didn't want to arouse the roommate's suspicions about the backpack, the complaint said.
"They then collectively decided to throw the backpack and fireworks into the trash because they did not want Tsarnaev to get in trouble," the complaint said. Kadyrbaev put the items in a large trash bag and tossed it into a dumpster near his apartment, the complaint said.
There was no indication the three men had any prior knowledge of the bombing.
"Please be advised that there is no threat to public safety," the Boston Police Department said on its website.
If convicted, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov face a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and Phillipos faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison, prosecutors said.
Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev were classmates of Tsarnaev’s at UMass-Dartmouth who lived in an off-campus apartment in New Bedford and got around in a car with the vanity plate “Terrorista #1.”
The plate, which was pictured on Tsarnaev’s Twitter feed in March, was a joke gift from friends, a lawyer for Kadyrbayev has said. The lawyer has also said the two men were shocked by the bombing and have fully cooperated.
Authorities said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and his older brother Tamerlan carried out the blasts that killed three and wounded more than 200 near the finish line of the race.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed during a firefight with police. Dzhokhar was arrested after a manhunt and has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction.
Law enforcement officials have told NBC News that Dzhokhar told them during questioning he and his brother wanted to defend Islam after the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The brothers, ethnic Chechens who had been living in the U.S. for more than a decade, were seen on video at the marathon. Investigators have been trying to determine if they received assistance from anyone else in the U.S. or abroad.