3 face obstruction, false statements charges in Boston Marathon bombings

Three more people have been taken into custody in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings.

  • They are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements.
  • A criminal complaint says Azamat Tazhayakov, Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos destroyed evidence or lied to investigators.

Three more people have been taken into custody in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings, according to the Boston police.

They are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for Massachusetts.

A criminal complaint identifies the suspects as Azamat Tazhayakov, Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos and says they destroyed evidence or lied to investigators. The trio of 19-year-old men attended the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with surviving bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The complaint says Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev  obstructed justice by "knowingly destroying, concealing and covering up tangible objects belonging to Tsarnaev, namely, a laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks."

Phillipos, another friend of Tsarnaev's, "knowingly and willfully made materially false statements to federal law enforcement investigators," the complaint says.

They are not accused of participating in the bombing plot itself. 

Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, was charged in the bombings last week. His brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died trying to get away from authorities.

The complaint says Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov admitted to investigators that they removed a fireworks-filled backpack from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room after "concluding from news reports" that he was one of the bombers.

Kadyrbayev tossed the backpack and fireworks into a dumpster near his New Bedford, Mass., apartment the evening of April 18, the complaint says.

The document also says Phillipos initially lied to investigators about going to Tsarnaev's dorm room and removing items that evening.

Law enforcement officers recovered the backpack from a landfill on Friday, the complaint says.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is facing federal charges of using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death. The charges could lead to a death sentence if he is convicted.

The three new suspects will appear in federal court later this afternoon, prosecutors said. Kadyrbayev and Tzhayakov could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted; Phillipos could face up to eight years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.

Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev appeared in a Boston immigration court this morning for a visa violation hearing.

At this morning's immigration court hearing, a Department of Homeland Security prosecutor argued that the two Kazakh men overstayed their student visas, according to the Globe. They have been detained in the Suffolk County jail since they were arrested 11 days ago.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custody April 19 when he was found in a bloodied boat in Watertown, Mass., after a massive manhunt throughout Boston and its suburbs. He is now in custody at the Federal Medical Center Devens, a prison about 40 miles west of Boston that treats federal inmates who require long-term medical or mental-health care.

The brothers are also accused of killing a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer during their escape attempt. No charges, however, have been filed in the death of Officer Sean Collier thus far.

Authorities have been investigating whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev was trained or indoctrinated by Islamist militants in Chechnya. But law-enforcement officials have said they don't believe the Tsarnaev brothers were working with an organized terror group in the Boston attack.

Russian officials had alerted U.S. agencies about Tamerlan Tsarnaev's radicalization. President Barack Obama said at a Tuesday news conference that he believed investigators acted appropriately on that information, but intelligence officials will still review whether information was shared adequately among agencies.

Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.