Three Charged With Obstructing Justice, Lying To Police, In Connection With Boston Attacks

As I noted earlier, three people were arrested earlier today on charges related to the attacks at the Boston Marathon. At this hour, they are appearing in Federal Court at this hour on charges that they aided Dzhokar Tsarnaey in disposing of evidence related to the bombings and, in one case, lied to law enforcement during the course of the investigation:

Three college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were charged Wednesday with removing a backpack and fireworks from his dorm room or lying about it to the feds.

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev were 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, who are from Kazakhstan, had been detained April 20 on immigration charges. Philipos was taken into custody later.

The men recognized Tsarnaev, 19, from video of the bombing scene released by the FBI and Kadyrbayev texted him about it, a criminal complaint said.

Tsarnaev’s 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 found he had already left and were let in by his roommate.

After watching a movie, they spotted a backpack containing seven red tubes of fireworks that had been emptied of their explosive powder and Kadyrbayev decided to take it, according to the complaint. They also took a laptop because they didn’t want to arouse the roommate’s suspicions about the backpack, the complaint said.

Back at his apartment, the three friends “started to freak out” because they realized Tsarnaev was wanted in the bombing, Philipos said, according to the feds.

They then “collectively decided to throw the backpack and fireworks into the trash because they did not want Tsarnaev to get in trouble,” Kadyrbaev told agents, according to the complaint.

Kadyrbaev allegedly put the items in a large trash bag and tossed it into a dumpster near his apartment.

There was no indication the three men had any prior knowledge of the bombing, although the complaint does note that a month before the attack, Tsarnaev told Kadyrbaev and Tazhayakov that the “knew how to make a bomb.”

These charges are fairly low end criminal charges. The obstruction charges carry a maximum sentences of five years in prison, while the lying to law enforcement charge carries a maximum sentence of eight years in prison, apparently because it consists of lying in connection with a terrorism investigation. These charges also seem to be an indication that the authorities continue to believe that the Tsarnaev brothers acted alone in carrying out the actual attack, a fact that seems ever further confirmed by the fact that Dzhokhar had left behind crucial evidence related to his attack in his dorm room and didn’t think to do anything about it until he and his brother were about to make a run for it. As for these three individuals, I would suspect that their ultimate sentences will be less than the maximum if they are agreeing to cooperate, although the two Kazakh students are likely to face consequences for the fact that they were in violation of the terms of their student visas. Indeed, if by some course of events Dhzokhar’s case does go to trial, I would expect to see all three of these guys testifying against him after striking a plea deal.

Here’s a copy of the Complaint:

Criminal Complaint in United States v. Kadyrbayev et al by dmataconis

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, National Security, Terrorism, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I’m pretty troubled by the idea that lying to the cops is considered a crime.

  2. TycheSD says:

    To me, this makes it seem more likely that they had an accomplice or help. Where did they put the bombs together? Outside somewhere so there would be no traces of black powder?

  3. Once again, a great reminder that you should never voluntarily talk to the police about anything.

  4. @Gromitt Gunn:

    I’m pretty troubled by the idea that lying to the cops is considered a crime.

    Well, why don’t just make federal law enforcement part of the census department, since you apparently have no trouble criminalizing lying to census takers.

  5. Tyrell says:

    So the web gets larger. Now more co- conspirators. It appears that the government jumped the gun and should now reconsider this and classify this as a terrorist attack and an act of war. Put this guy in some military prison.
    Our leaders are in total denial.

  6. grumpy realist says:

    @Tyrell: Dude, there’s a great difference between “co-conspirator” and “unwittingly helping a bozo friend of ours.”

    You’d never make it through law school.

  7. Tyrell says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Let me get this straight: someone in Massachusetts can order a special tag that says “Terrorists #1” ? And authorities and law enforcement did not catch that ?
    Sorry, free speech does not cover terrorist messages !!

  8. John Burgess says:

    @Tyrell: I wondered about that. MA is a two-plate state, with both the front and back plates providing the same information. The following states, however, only require a rear plate, so anything can be put up front:

    Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia.

    I think we’ll learn that the car was registered in one of those states.

  9. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Stormy Dragon: WTF are you talking about?

  10. PD Shaw says:

    Burgess might be right, particularly since “Terrorists #1″ seems pretty long for an official plate.

    But I wouldn’t be surprised if states vary on their policies on rejecting proposed license numbers. And sometimes these decisions end up in court if someone feels that their view is being discriminated against.

  11. PD Shaw says:

    I’m not sure its the lying that got these people in trouble, it was knowingly destroying evidence of a crime.

  12. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @PD Shaw: From what I’ve read, two of them are charged with destroying evidence and one of them for providing a false statement.

  13. PD Shaw says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: You could be right, though I do wonder if the laptop had not been destroyed, whether charges would have been brought. The false statements might be the easiest to prove.

  14. @Gromitt Gunn:

    WTF are you talking about?

    I was pointing out the dissonance between upset that people can be prosecuted for lying to the FBI in this comment section and your being perfectly okay with people being prosecuted for lying to the Census Bureau in this one

  15. Ben says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Well, I can’t speak for Gromitt on the census stuff, but I agree with him that I am extremely uncomfortable with the idea that lying to a police officer is a crime. Especially when you consider that SCOTUS has no problem with police lying to you, in order to implicate you in wrongdoing.

  16. ElizaJane says:

    I have a couple of thoughts on this. On the one hand, these were two college freshmen from Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is a culture where the police are terrifying, corrupt, and generally not on your side. I would react completely differently to having a friend involved in a crime in Kazakhstan than I would in the USA. I would NOT call the police. I would probably lock myself in my apartment and get a bodyguard! I speak from personal experience with the Kazakh police.

    On the other hand, these Kazakh teens evidently were driving a black BMW. That is incredibly odd. Anybody from Kaz with that much money is probably related to a policeman!

  17. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Stormy Dragon: You are blatantly lying. Knock it off.

  18. anjin-san says:

    @ Tyrell

    an act of war

    Who is declaring war on the US? The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth?

    Seriously dude, it’s embarrassing for everyone when you post this sort of thing.

  19. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Oh, dear lord, don’t I have egg on my face. I just figured out where you were headed, and clearly overreacted.

    I completely disagree with your conclusion. You are not going to go convince me that complying with a civic duty like the Census is the same as talking to cops. The Census is much more akin to the obligation to fulfill Jury Duty or not perjure oneself. Still I do understand the logic of A –> B and beg pardon for overreacting in my previous post.

  20. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    It appears that at least one of the three was here in the country illegally, but let’s not let that inconvenient truth spill over into any awkward discussions…

  21. CSK says:

    The “Terrorista #1” plate is a novelty plate that was purchased in the UMass Dartmouth bookstore, not issued by the DMV in any state.

    In any case, Massachusetts issues only six-character plates.

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