Third Friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Indicted

Robel Phillipos, the third friend of Jahar Tsarnaev who was arrested for making false statements to the FBI related to the terrorism investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing, has now been indicted. He's charged with two counts of making a false statement in a matter involving domestic or international terrorism. The Indictment is here. It alleges his false statements material and made knowingly and willfully.

His attorneys previously said they were working on a disposition. No more. They now say he will fight the charges. My translation: Negotiations over sentencing broke down. [More...]

Phillipos is an American citizen and college student. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 8 years, for a maximum of 16 years. In addition, there are enhancements under the Sentencing Guidelines. See, USSG 2J1.2 and 2X3.1. While the guidelines are advisory, they are the starting point.

Phillipos, unlike his co-defendants, is not charged with obstruction of justice or conspiracy. He didn't get rid of the backpack or any other evidence. The feds had already announced Dzhokhar and his brother were suspects, so his false statements didn't help Dzhokhar avoid detection.

None of the three defendants in this case appear to ascribe to any terrorist ideology. They are teenagers, who made a mistake and tried to shield a friend. The Government wants to throw the book at them. I wonder how many years they offered him. Did the U.S. Attorney for Mass. not learn anything from Aaron Swartz's suicide? This is overkill.

I also wonder whether the Government can even prevail on the materiality element. None of his alleged false statements seem material. He also made them without being provided counsel.

Last week, Najibullah Zazi's uncle was sentenced to three years probation, at the request of the Government, after admitting he helped Zazi discard bomb making materials. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice. (He was not charged with perjuring himself in front of the grand jury which the Government alleged he did in its sentencing letter to the court.)

Judge Raymond Dearie acknowledged that Jaji was a victim of circumstance in the case and offered his sympathies before handing down the sentence.

"You provided a home for your nephew and you were rewarded with three years of chaos," he said as the sullen defendant stood before him. "You did the right thing," he said of his government cooperation. "You did a courageous thing."

Because he cooperated and testified against Zazi and his father, the Government sought a sentence of probation when his guidelines were 30 years to life and the maximum was 20 years. Zazi's father, who was also convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice and visa fraud, was sentenced to 54 months.

The huge amount of prosecutorial discretion in these cases is very troubling.

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    SITE VIOLATOR (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon May 14, 2018 at 08:04:54 PM EST

    To venture an answer to your question, (none / 0) (#1)
    by Peter G on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 10:51:56 PM EST
    that is:
    Did the U.S. Attorney for Mass. not learn anything from Aaron Swartz's suicide?


    SITE VIOLATOR (none / 0) (#3)
    by shoephone on Wed Jan 20, 2016 at 01:41:49 PM EST

    SITE VIOLATOR (none / 0) (#6)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Jan 20, 2016 at 01:52:20 PM EST

    JINX (none / 0) (#10)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon May 14, 2018 at 08:05:30 PM EST