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Tsarnaev's Friend Indicted on Charges of Making False Statements

U.S. Department of Justice(BOSTON) -- A federal grand jury returned an indictment Thursday against a friend of surviving Boston Marathon bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  

Robel Phillipos is the third UMass-Dartmouth classmate of Tsarnaev to face charges in connection with the terror investigation.  

Phillipos, a 19-year-old from Cambridge, Mass., is accused of lying to investigators about an alleged visit he and two other friends paid to Tsarnaev’s dorm room the night pictures of Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan were made public.

Phillipos is charged with two counts of making false statements.

“We regret that the US Attorney's office chose to indict rather than dismiss the charges against Robel Phillipos,” his attorneys Derege Demissie and Susan Church said in a statement. “In time, it will be clear that this prosecution should not have been brought in the first place.”

The indictment also charges Dias Kadyrbayev, 19, and Azamat Tazhayakov, 19, both of New Bedford, Mass., with conspiring to obstruct justice and obstructing justice with the intent to impede a terrorism investigation.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Vincent B. Lisi, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston Field Division, jointly announced the indictment.

It said the three friends went to Tsarnaev's dorm room the night of April 18, 2013.  Kadyrbayev had received a text message from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev suggesting that he go to Tsarnaev’s “room and take what’s there.” Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov, and Phillipos allegedly removed several items, including Tsarnaev’s laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks, and brought them to Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov’s apartment in New Bedford.  Later that night, Kadyrbayev allegedly tossed the items in a dumpster.

If convicted, Phillipos faces up to 16 years in prison.  Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov face a maximum penalty of 25 years and the possibility of being deported to Kazakhstan.  

A court date for Phillipos has not been set.  His attorneys have previously denied the allegations.

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