WASHINGTON, August 29 (RIA Novosti) – Another college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was indicted Thursday on charges he lied to police during the investigation of the April 15 attack, US officials announced.
A federal grand jury indicted Robel Phillipos, 19, after he was charged in May with “making a series of materially false statements to federal law enforcement officials during a terrorism investigation,” the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said in a statement.
Phillipos was charged with two counts of making false statements. Each count carries a maximum penalty of eight years in a federal prison as well as three years of supervised parole and a $250,000 fine for each count, the statement said.
He was the third friend of Tsarnaev to be indicted in the case. Two other men, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both also 19 and both citizens of Kazakhstan, pleaded not guilty earlier this month to obstruction of justice charges in connection with the case.
All four men studied at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos removed items from Tsarnaev’s dormitory room and later tried to get rid of them after learning that Tsarnaev was a suspect – actions that Phillipos lied about, US prosecutors said.
Court documents cited by the Boston Globe website said Phillipos told investigators that after taking the items, including Tsarnaev’s backpack, to another location he took a nap and found the backpack was gone when he awoke.
Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, have been accused of perpetrating the Boston Marathon attack which killed three people and left 260 injured. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during a shootout with police while Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is awaiting trial on terrorism charges that could be punished with execution.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.