Jury Convicts Man of Impeding Boston Marathon Bombing Investigation

Department of Justice (DOJ) | Jul 21, 2014

Justice Department Press Releases

Monday, July 21, 2014

Jury Convicts Man of Impeding Boston Marathon Bombing Investigation

A federal jury in Boston has convicted a friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, for impeding the bombing investigation.

Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts and Special Agent in Charge Vincent B. Lisi of the FBI’s Boston Field Division, made the announcement today.

The jury found Azamat Tazhayakov, 20, guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice and obstructing justice with the intent to impede the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock scheduled sentencing for October 16, 2014.

In August 2013, Tazhayakov was indicted for obstructing a terrorism investigation. Tazhayakov is a national of Kazakhstan who was temporarily living in the United States on a student visa while attending the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, but at the time of his arrest his visa had been revoked.

The evidence at trial proved that on April 18, 2013, after the release of photographs of the two men suspected of carrying out the Marathon bombings (who were later identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev), Tazhayakov and others went to Tsarnaev’s dormitory room and found items that linked Tsarnaev to the bombing, including fireworks from which "gunpowder" appeared to have been removed and a jar of Vaseline that they believed could be used to make bombs. A forensic examiner testified that Vaseline can be used to make improvised explosive devices. A month before the bombing, Tsarnaev had told Tazhayakov that it would be good to die as shaheed (martyr) and that he knew how to build a bomb. Tsarnaev also identified specific ingredients one could use to make a bomb, including "gunpowder."

After searching Tsarnaev’s dormitory room on the evening of April 18, 2013, Tazhayakov helped remove Tsarnaev’s laptop and a backpack containing fireworks, a jar of Vaseline, and a thumb drive. Later that night while Tazhayakov was monitoring the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers, he discussed getting rid of the backpack containing the fireworks and agreed to get rid of it. The backpack was then placed in a garbage bag and then thrown into a dumpster outside Tazhayakov’s New Bedford apartment. The FBI recovered this backpack a week later, after 25 agents spent two days searching a landfill in New Bedford.

The charging statute provides a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison on the obstruction of justice count and five years on the conspiracy count, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 for each charge. Tazhayakov will also be deported at the conclusion of this prosecution. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Boston Division and member agencies of the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) which is comprised of more than 30 federal, state and local enforcement agencies. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Massachusetts State Police, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Department of Public Safety, New Bedford Police Department, Dartmouth Police Department, U.S. Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General, U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), Essex County Sheriff’s Office, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, provided assistance to this investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys B. Stephanie Siegmann and John A. Capin of Ortiz’s Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

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Boston Bombing Suspect’s Friend Is Convicted On Obstruction Charges
All Things Considered
National Public Radio | Jul 21, 2014

ROBERT SIEGEL: In Boston today, a friend of the Marathon Bombing suspect was found guilty. He was charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The man is 20 years-old, a college friend of Jahar Tsarnaev. The friend was accused of helping to remove incriminating evidence from his dorm room following the bombings. And Pete Tovia Smith has our story.

TOVIA SMITH: Prosecutors say Azamat Tazhayakov went with two friends to Tsarnaev’s dorm room and removed his laptop and his backpack containing fireworks emptied of their gunpowder and agreed with the plan to dispose of the backpack. They say Tazhayakov recognized the suspects as soon as authorities published their pictures, but didn’t say anything until he was picked up and interrogated. Prosecutors also say it took a while to get Tazhayakov to share everything he knew. Prosecutors today expressed relief that the jury saw it their way. Defense attorneys expressed shock.

MATTHEW MYERS: It’s a brutal day for all of us – difficult to try a case in this culture.

SMITH: Defense attorney Matthew Myers says he’s already planning an appeal.

MYERS: It’s very difficult to get a juror who is objective. We understand what this town has been through, it’s just hard to put those things aside – the jurors under a certain pressure by the community to possibly render a certain verdict.

SMITH: Tazhayakov insisted that he had nothing to do with dumping the bag and didn’t even know it was thrown out until after the fact, his attorneys casted him as a scared teenager who never intended to cover up any crime. But as Northeastern University law professor Daniel Medwed notes, the defense couldn’t overcome the facts.

DANIEL MEDWED: There’s very few innocent explanations for getting rid of the backpack. What was the reason for doing that besides protecting your friend from potential criminal consequences?

SMITH: Tazhayakov bowed his head in court as his mother wept loudly while jurors read their verdict – guilty of taking the backpack, though not guilty of taking the laptop. He faces a maximum of 25 years in prison, sentencing is set for October. Soon after, two other Tsarnaev friends are due to stand trial for allegedly being a part of the obstruction. Former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan says today’s guilty verdict may impact those cases.

MICHAEL SULLIVAN: It could be the defendant feeling more anxious to consider some type of plea deal. At the same token, the government could say that they feel very confident and feel that it’s not necessary to cut a deal.

SMITH: Tsarnaev himself is set to go to trial in November. Today’s verdict may bolster efforts by Tsarnaev’s defense team to get the case moved out of Boston. Tovia Smith, NPR News, Boston.

 

 

Guilty Verdict in Marathon-Bomb Obstruction Case
Kamp, Jon
Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition | 22 July 2014

BOSTON — A former college student was found guilty Monday of trying to thwart the investigation into the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing by helping remove a backpack from the accused bomber’s dorm room three days after the deadly attack.

Azamat Tazhayakov, a 20-year-old from Kazakhstan, faces up to 20 years in prison for impeding the investigation and up to five years for planning to take evidence with another friend, whose trial is pending. Mr. Tazhayakov’s sentencing is set for Oct. 16.

The verdict marks a win for the local U.S. attorney’s office as prosecutors begin trying five separate cases linked to the marathon bombing and its aftermath.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is charged with plotting and carrying out the deadly attack. He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial in November. Four others have been charged in connection with alleged efforts to assist him or hide connections to him after the fact.

Mr. Tazhayakov’s trial began July 7. Prosecutors charged him with intentionally helping another friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, take items from Mr. Tsarnaev’s room, including a backpack with emptied fireworks inside. Prosecutors alleged the men went to the room days after the bombing when they recognized Mr. Tsarnaev through pictures in the news, even though he hadn’t yet been named.

"Before the FBI showed up, the defendant had already agreed to toss this in the dumpster," prosecutor John Capin said, holding up the backpack while making the government’s final argument against Mr. Tazhayakov last week.

The jury convicted him over the backpack, but found him not guilty regarding a laptop that was also taken from Mr. Tsarnaev’s room. Mr. Tazhayakov’s attorneys said they would appeal — arguing the form the jury signed for the verdict was confusing — while also pushing for the most lenient sentence possible.

Mr. Kadyrbayev, also a 20-year-old from Kazakhstan, faces the same charges and is scheduled for trial in September. He has pleaded not guilty.

 

 

JURY CONVICTS MAN OF IMPEDING BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING INVESTIGATION
US Fed News Service | 23 July 2014

BOSTON, July 21 — The US Department of Justice’s US Attorney’s office for the District of Massachusetts issued the following press release:

A federal jury in Boston has convicted a friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, for impeding the bombing investigation.

The jury found Azamat Tazhayakov, 20, guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice and obstructing justice with the intent to impede the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. U. S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock scheduled sentencing for October 16, 2014.

In August 2013, Tazhayakov was indicted for obstructing a terrorism investigation. Tazhayakov is a national of Kazakhstan who was temporarily living in the United States on a student visa while attending the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, but at the time of his arrest his visa had been revoked.

The evidence at trial proved that on April 18, 2013, after the release of photographs of the two men suspected of carrying out the Marathon bombings (who were later identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev), Tazhayakov and others went to Tsarnaev’s dormitory room and found items that linked Tsarnaev to the bombing, including fireworks from which "gunpowder" appeared to have been removed and a jar of Vaseline that they believed could be used to make bombs. A forensic examiner testified that Vaseline can be used to make improvised explosive devices. A month before the bombing, Tsarnaev had told Tazhayakov that it would be good to die as shaheed (martyr) and that he knew how to build a bomb. Tsarnaev also identified specific ingredients one could use to make a bomb, including "gunpowder."

After searching Tsarnaev’s dormitory room on the evening of April 18, 2013, Tazhayakov helped remove Tsarnaev’s laptop and a backpack containing fireworks, a jar of Vaseline, and a thumb drive. Later that night while Tazhayakov was monitoring the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers, he discussed getting rid of the backpack containing the fireworks and agreed to get rid of it. The backpack was then placed in a garbage bag and then thrown into a dumpster outside Tazhayakov’s New Bedford apartment. The FBI recovered this backpack a week later, after 25 agents spent two days searching a landfill in New Bedford.

The charging statute provides a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison on the obstruction of justice count and five years on the conspiracy count, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 for each charge. Tazhayakov will also be deported at the conclusion of this prosecution. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U. S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin and Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Boston Division and member agencies of the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) which is comprised of more than 30 federal, state and local enforcement agencies. U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Massachusetts State Police, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Department of Public Safety, New Bedford Police Department, Dartmouth Police Department, U. S. Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General, U. S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), Essex County Sheriff’s Office, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, provided assistance to this investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorneys B. Stephanie Siegmann and John A. Capin of Ortiz’s Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

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