WASHINGTON – A friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on charges of lying seven times to the FBI about what happened to Tsarnaev’s laptop computer and backpack containing fireworks.
Robel K. Phillipos of Cambridge, Mass., was charged with two counts of making false and misleading statements about a purported attempt by two other friends to get rid of the incriminating evidence in the April terrorist attack, in which three people were killed.
Phillipos was arrested with the two other Tsarnaev friends, who also have been indicted, but Phillipos was released on bail.
The indictment says the 19-year-old lied to FBI agents after he was interviewed over six days about what happened with several of Tsarnaev’s belongings taken from his dorm room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
Federal officials think Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov put the items in a trash bin after Tsarnaev encouraged them in a text message to go to his room and “take what’s there,” authorities said. The backpack was later recovered from a local landfill. The laptop has not been found.
The FBI and prosecutors say Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, purchased a large amount of fireworks to use as explosives in the two pressure-cooker bombs they placed near the marathon finish line on April 15. The devices detonated shortly before 3 p.m., within a block of each other.
Four days later, Tamerlan was killed in a police shootout and Dzhokhar was arrested hiding in a boat.