BOSTON – A friend of the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect was indicted Thursday for allegedly making false statements to authorities.
Prosecutors said Robel Phillipos faces up to 16 years in prison in connection with two federal criminal counts. But attorneys for the 19-year-old say he will continue to fight the allegations against him.
“In time, it will be clear that this prosecution should not have been brought in the first place,” lawyers Derege Demissie and Susan Church said in a statement.
After Phillipos’ May arrest on one count of lying to authorities, a judge ordered him released on $100,000 bond, putting him on home confinement and electronic monitoring.
Phillipos met 20-year-old bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev while they were students at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
In arguing for bail in May, Phillipos’ lawyers portrayed him as a frightened and confused young man “who was subjected to intense questioning and interrogation, without the benefit of counsel, and in the context of one of the worst attacks against the nation.”
Friends and relatives have described him in court documents as a considerate and thoughtful person who was the son of a single mother who emigrated from Ethiopia to the United States.
The April 15 bombing killed three people and injured more than 260 others near the race’s finish line.
Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, two other friends of Tsarnaev’s, already have pleaded not guilty to allegations they conspired to obstruct justice by agreeing to destroy and conceal some of his belongings as he evaded authorities after the attack.
Authorities have alleged Phillipos was with Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov in Tsarnaev’s dorm room on April 18, and the three left with items including Tsarnaev’s laptop and a backpack with fireworks.
They claim Phillipos concealed that the three went to the dorm room and took Tsarnaev’s backpack, and that he repeatedly lied to investigators during interviews.
But Phillipos’ lawyers said Thursday it’s clear that he had nothing to do with taking the backpack or destroying potential evidence. The Associated Press
Brothers accused of making fake marathon claim
A Boston man charged with making a fake $2.2 million claim to the main Boston Marathon bombing victims’ compensation fund has been indicted with his brother for allegedly conspiring in the scam.
Branden Mattier, 22, and Domunique Grice, 27, were indicted Thursday on charges of conspiracy to commit larceny, attempt to commit larceny and identity fraud, the state attorney general’s office said.
Mattier pleaded not guilty earlier in municipal court to attempted larceny and identity theft and is held on $20,000 bail. The brothers will be arraigned in Superior Court at an unscheduled date.
The brothers are accused of collaborating on a false claim to The One Fund for their long-dead aunt.
The April 15 attacks killed three people and injured more than 260.
Mattier was arrested July 2 when he allegedly accepted a fake benefit check from an undercover state trooper posing as a deliveryman.
Prosecutors said Thursday that the brothers had scheduled a test drive of a new Mercedes-Benz for later that day.
The attorney general’s office said Mattier and Grice attended a May public meeting held by The One Fund for potential claimants, and also went to a private ceremony and dinner for victims and their families marking the closing of the temporary Copley Square street memorial.
Mattier’s lawyer has said he intends to fight the case. A police report said Mattier told state police he intended to use the money to help people.
In a separate case, Audrea Gause, 26, of Troy, N.Y., has pleaded not guilty to making a false One Fund claim for almost half a million dollars. The Associated Press