Tsarnaev Pal Dias Kadyrbayev Sentenced to 6 Years

Dias Kadyrbayev, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friend who removed his computer and backpack from his dorm room was sentenced to six years in prison today for his guilty pleas to obstructing the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing.

The plea agreement called for a sentence of up to 7 years. All sides agreed the sentencing guidelines' terrorism enhancement, applicable to the obstruction charges, was too harsh. The judge said "This guideline doesn't serve the purposes of sentencing." [More...]

From a reporter covering the proceeding live: The Judge said there was no legal obligation to call the police and report Dzhokhar, but there was a moral obligation. He said "It goes to his character and the background of the offense" that when the FBI asked for help, he removed evidence.

The judge did not believe the taking of the items was solely to protect Dzhokhar, as he did not take the iconic white cap. He said the motive was mixed: "conceal, cover up, transport evidence, but also to take valuable pieces of property"

The relatives of slain police officer Sean Collier, did not testify.

Dias pleaded guilty to two obstruction counts. Count One charged him with conspiring with Azamat Tazhayakov to violate 18 U.S.C. § 1519 by agreeing to alter, destroy, conceal, and cover up Tsarnaev's laptop and his backpack containing fireworks, with the intent to impede, obstruct, and influence the FBI’s investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings. Count Two charged him with obstruction of justice based on the alteration, destruction, concealment, and covering up of the same objects. From the Government's sentencing memorandum:

There is no evidence that Kadyrbayev was aware of Tsarnaev’s plan to bomb the Boston
Marathon or played any role in that terrorist attack. Nevertheless, Kadyrbayev conspired with
Tazhayakov to obstruct a terrorism investigation and affirmatively acted to impede the bombing
investigation at the critical moment when the investigation was intensely focused on locating the Tsarnaev brothers and thwarting further acts of violence.

...Rather than heeding the FBI’s plea for help from the public, the defendant and
Tazhayakov interfered with the administration of justice and impeded the investigation by
causing the unnecessary expenditure of substantial government resources and inhibiting the investigative efforts of federal law enforcement officers.

The Government did not claim Dias would have prevented Collier's murder had he called the police when he learned Dzhokhar was involved in the bombing:

The government does not ask the Court to find that a call by Kadyrbayev to the police
would have resulted in earlier apprehension of Tsarnaev. The moral obligation at issue is rooted
in the possibility that calling the police could have made a difference, regardless of how one
assesses the likelihood that it would in fact have made a difference

As to the application of the terrorism enhancement, which bumped Dias' guidelines up to 360 months to life, the Government wrote:

Because Kadyrbayev’s crimes, while serious,
are unlikely to be repeated and did not include any crimes of violence, the Government believes
that a consideration of the factors specified at 18 U.S.C. §3553(a) demonstrate that a sentence of
7 years is reasonable.

The statutory maximum was 25 years (less than the guidelines.) Dias has already served 2 years in pretrial confinement. He has been in 23 hour a day segregation. He will be deported at the end of his sentence.

Azamat Tazhayakov and Robel Phillipos will be sentenced later this week. Both went to trial and lost. Azamat was found guilty of obstructing justice with respect to Tsarnaev's backpack (but not the laptop.) Azamat, who went to trial first, later agreed to testify against Robel, Dias and Tsarnaev. (He testified for the Government at Robel's trial.) The Government is asking that Azamat be sentenced to 48 months. (Court Document 594). His guidelines, like Dias', are 360 to life due to the terrorism enhancement, but the maximum he can get by statute is 25 years.

Robel was convicted of making false statements in a terrorism investigation. The maximum sentence is 8 years per count.

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  • Display: Sort:
    (Sigh!) Apparently, the Justice Dept. ... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Jun 02, 2015 at 02:35:31 PM EST
    ... will not rest until the scourge of teenaged bonding is wiped out. This sentence is awfully harsh, and smacks of vengeance and retribution, rather than personal sanction.

    To be sure, what Dias Kadyrbayev in obstructing a critical federal investigation was wrong, wrong, wrong. But these are teenagers we're talking about, a period of life when the emotional bonds between friends are intense and virtually unshakable, to the point where personal loyalty to one's buddy often trumps sound personal judgment.

    Six years in prison for hiding a buddy's backpack and laptop is way too severe for what actually happened, particularly when one considers that Gov. Bob McDonnell put his public duties up for bid and basically sold out the Commonwealth of Virginia, yet got only two years.


    I Am With You... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Jun 03, 2015 at 09:02:31 AM EST
    ...they ruined his life for what is essentially a quick decision to help a friend.  What he was was jacked up, but at the time it seems likely he wasn't aware of what he was actually doing, which was aiding a terrorist, and obstructing the FBI investigation.  His actions didn't hurt anyone, they could have, but they didn't.

    His only real crime IMO is befriending someone who turned out to be a terrorist and helping that friend.

    It's been how long, seems to me like he's paid the price of knowing a terrorist.  I would imagine his family is broke, his name is dirt, and he will never be able to get a good job even without the prison time.


    My understanding is that Dias (& buddies) (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jun 04, 2015 at 04:26:25 PM EST
    knew that Tsarnaev and Tamerlan were the two main suspects in the bombing murders because they saw their photos on, like, every news channel, which were accompanied by requests by law enforcement for info to help apprehend them.

    And following that, when they then went to Tsarnaev's apartment, they found Tsarnaev's backpack full of fireworks that had all been emptied of their black powder.

    All this before before Dias took the backpack with emptied fireworks and the computer.

    Unless the above is completely wrong, I have no doubts that Dias knew what he was doing.


    For Me... (none / 0) (#26)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Jun 08, 2015 at 02:22:20 PM EST
    ...if the cops said my friend was the main suspect in a terrorist bombing I would have a hard time believing it.  And if it was certain friends I would most certainly do what I could to help, believing no way my friend is a terrorist or a murderer.

    I did not know that law enforcement had contacted them for help.  If true, that does change the dynamic quit a bit.  But I can't tell if you mean asked for help in the generic sense or they actually contacted them.


    Doesn't really matter what you think (none / 0) (#27)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Jun 08, 2015 at 05:06:18 PM EST
    you would or would not have believed, Kadyrbayev said that he knew his buddy Dzhokhar was involved when he saw the emptied fireworks in his backpack in his apartment.

    LE had asked the public for help via the news channels along with all the photos of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan at the bomb site.


    Agreed. (none / 0) (#23)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Jun 04, 2015 at 03:57:45 PM EST
    I think that as we age, we sometimes forget how intense our own teenaged bonds with our close friends could be, especially when you're away from home at college. (And let's remember, these kids were not only away from home, they were in another country.) In such instances, your friends are often your lifeline and touchstone.

    so I get that 6 years is a lot (none / 0) (#2)
    by CST on Tue Jun 02, 2015 at 02:47:39 PM EST
    But in fact the sentence was much more lenient than the guidelines (even with the statute maximum).  If anything the entire post Jeralyn wrote suggests the opposite occurred, and that they reasonably concluded that using the guidelines (360 months - life) were outrageous and  therefore "only" a 6 year sentence was applied.

    So it sounds like they deliberately did not go the vengeance/retribution route, as they could've gone significantly higher.

    I agree that 6 years is too long, but I don't agree with your conclusions about the Justice Department mentality/methodology that got them there.


    Fair enough. (none / 0) (#4)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Jun 02, 2015 at 04:25:12 PM EST
    I'll go with your take on the matter that the effects of the sentencing guidelines were mitigated in this case. Were these guidelines included in the original legislation, or were they later determined by DOJ?

    I'm not 100% sure (none / 0) (#6)
    by CST on Tue Jun 02, 2015 at 04:48:48 PM EST
    I follow the question you're asking, but this is where I was coming from (from Jeralyn's post):

    "As to the application of the terrorism enhancement, which bumped Dias' guidelines up to 360 months to life, the Government wrote:

    Because Kadyrbayev's crimes, while serious,
    are unlikely to be repeated and did not include any crimes of violence, the Government believes
    that a consideration of the factors specified at 18 U.S.C. §3553(a) demonstrate that a sentence of
    7 years is reasonable."

    My understanding is that the "terrorism enhancement" triggered a sentencing guideline (I don't know how they determine these) of 30yrs - life in prison, that was disregarded in this case.


    Well, thanks for trying. (none / 0) (#8)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Jun 02, 2015 at 05:01:37 PM EST
    Maybe our host can answer my question about federal sentencing guidelines. I know from personal experience that legislators can and do include restrictions on sentencing such as mandatory minimums, "three strikes" laws, etc., which can often bind a judge to a predetermined sentencing outcome. While that's obviously not the case here, I was just wondering whether they can legislate sentencing guidelines, as well.

    Hopefully peter g will (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Tue Jun 02, 2015 at 06:19:29 PM EST
    see your comment and respond. As you likely know, the federal judiciary decided federal district court judges may exercise their discretion to sentence a defendant to less time than the mandatory minimums.

    The federal sentencing guidelines are not (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Peter G on Tue Jun 02, 2015 at 08:02:35 PM EST
    "mandatory minimums."  The latter are legislative rules that require at least a certain sentence (if the stated criteria are met, and subject to legislatively stated exceptions), regardless of what the judge might otherwise think was appropriatate. Certain drug statutes have them, as well as some of the child p*rn laws, and a few others. The federal sentencing guidelines, on the other hand, are basically influential suggestions (followed about 85% of the time, IIRC) from a politically appointed Commission with an expert professional staff. The judge always has discretion to "depart" or "vary" from the Guidelines, however, as long as s/he makes reference to them and explains the sentence ultimately selected. In this connection, it is possible to enter into a plea agreement, as seems to have happened here, that includes terms that specify what recommendations each side will or may make to the judge, which may be within or outside the Guidelines.

    only in 2 instances (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jun 03, 2015 at 01:22:50 AM EST
    can a judge sentence below a mandatory minimum: when the government requests it in exchange for cooperation or the defendant qualifies for the safety valve.

    The sentencing guidelines are discretionary, mandatory minimums are not. Mandatory minimums trump the guidelines -- they are set by statute.

    There was no mandatory minimum in Dias' case.

    Plea agreements can be binding or non-binding.
    The plea agreement in this case contained a binding recommendation from the government of not more than 7 years.

    3. Fed. R. Crim. P. ll(c)(l)(C) Plea

    This plea agreement is made pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C), and Defendant's guilty plea will be tendered pursuant to that provision. In accordance with Rule 11(c)(1)(C), if the District Court ("Court") accepts this Agreement, the Court must include the agreed disposition in the judgment. If the Court rejects any aspect of this Agreement, the U.S. Attorney may deem the Agreement null and void. Defendant understands and acknowledges that he may not withdraw his plea of guilty unless the Court rejects this Agreement under Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(5).

    The plea agreement (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jun 03, 2015 at 01:29:08 AM EST
    and statement of facts Dias agreed to are here.

    The "safety valve" to which J refers (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Peter G on Wed Jun 03, 2015 at 09:03:08 AM EST
    is a statutory reform that frees judges from the binding effect of a mandatory minimum sentencing statute in federal drug cases if the defendant meets 5 criteria, including (a) having only a minimal criminal record, at most; (b) not being a leader; (c) not using violence or possessing a firearm in connection with the drug crime; (d) not causing a death or serious injury; and (e) disclosing the full extent of their own participation (without any requirement of "cooperating"/"snitching" against others. The "safety valve" would be better if it were less restrictive, and if it applies to MMs outside the Controlled Substances Act.

    Thank you, Peter and Jeralyn. (none / 0) (#21)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Jun 04, 2015 at 03:41:25 PM EST
    Your explanations further clarified it for me.

    It is clear from J's post that the government (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Tue Jun 02, 2015 at 06:16:35 PM EST
    asked for a sentence of 7 yrs., as opposed to the much higher mandatory minimums. Now, 7 yrs. or 6 yrs. may be excessive in your view, but taking swipes at the government as going full-court press is uncalled for.

    The question is what good that sentence, (none / 0) (#19)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Jun 04, 2015 at 08:36:33 AM EST
    however legally lenient, serves anyone, especially the taxpayers who are sentenced to pay this kid's room and board for the next six years, plus the price of his persecution, plus the no doubt astronomical cost of the investigation.

    This sentence will have absolutely no inhibitory effect on the childhood friends of any future terrorist.  The same frantic phone call will be made.  The same bozonious actions will follow.  


    The remainder of the question/issue (none / 0) (#18)
    by Reconstructionist on Wed Jun 03, 2015 at 09:49:21 AM EST
      is answered/explained by Peter and Jeralyn already but, it should also be made clear that DOJ does not promulgate the sentencing guidelines.

      The United States Sentencing Commission promulgates the guidelines (Congress can affirmatively disapprove of a proposed guideline or amendment, but if it takes no action the guideline takes effect without affirmative congressional approval).

      The commission's members are found here. Note that the AG's designee is an ex officio, non-voting member.

       Now, one certainly sees a good bit more prosecution experience than defense experience in the backgrounds of the members but the commission is independent of DOJ.


    He was a 19 year old adult (none / 0) (#3)
    by Redbrow on Tue Jun 02, 2015 at 04:00:40 PM EST
    Who intentionally deceived law enforcement during an active terrorist attack situation where even a few seconds of intentional delay could mean the difference between life and death for more innocent victims.

    No need for the ridiculous romanticism.


    ... he likely lacked the capacity to reason soundly under stress. The frontal lobes of our brain, from whence are derived our complex cognitive functions including our ability to reason, solve problems and make decisions in the light of potential future consequences, are generally not fully developed in adult humans until they reach their mid-to-late 20s.

    That's why teenagers are much more prone to react emotionally to a given stressful situation than are adults, because they have yet to develop our capacity for situational rationalization. Anyone who's ever been a parent of a teenager can attest to that. (That's also why for generations, the legal age of majority was 21 and not 18.)

    So, when they see that a close friend is in trouble, teenagers can react without giving much if any thought to any incurrence of personal risk on their own part. The odds are pretty good that this is probably what happened here in this case.

    You've the right to your opinions, of course, and you've made it painfully clear in other threads that you don't particularly care for analysis that might run counter to or undermine those opinions.

    That said, I'll stand by my own opinion, and further note that there is nothing in this world quite so ridiculous as assertive ignorance. While you might think you're being resolute, you sound to me like you've been watching a bit too much "24" and "CSI." Life is not a two-dimensional TV show.



    Well I'm glad (none / 0) (#11)
    by coast on Tue Jun 02, 2015 at 06:47:11 PM EST
    we don't put kids his age and younger in stressful situations, like say combat. :)

    Yeah, that Iraq war worked out great. (none / 0) (#20)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Jun 04, 2015 at 08:38:09 AM EST
    So all those eighteen and nineteen (none / 0) (#25)
    by coast on Thu Jun 04, 2015 at 07:22:55 PM EST
    year olds who served didn't have the capacity to handle stressful situations.  That explains why the first CMOH was issued a young man who was a mere 18 years of age when he performed the act of valor for which he was awarded the medal.

    Sorry, but he should have known better.

    However, the punishment was too extreme.  


    Touché. (none / 0) (#22)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Jun 04, 2015 at 03:44:23 PM EST

    Let him go for time served (none / 0) (#5)
    by Green26 on Tue Jun 02, 2015 at 04:40:05 PM EST
    He's been punished enough. This is a bad statute and bad guidelines for this type of situation. He was overcharged. Everyone admits he won't repeat. Give him a break. It would be humane and fair. It would save the US some money.

    I Don't Believe the Government (none / 0) (#13)
    by RickyJim on Tue Jun 02, 2015 at 08:53:38 PM EST
    ...Rather than heeding the FBI's plea for help from the public, the defendant and
    Tazhayakov interfered with the administration of justice and impeded the investigation by
    causing the unnecessary expenditure of substantial government resources and inhibiting the investigative efforts of federal law enforcement officers.

    I would like to know about the "unnecessary expenditure of substantial government resources".  Dias' visit to the dorm room was on April 18, 2013, the day that ended with the shootout in Watertown.  Jahar was with his brother at the time so the practical effect of the actions of the three friends was zilch.

    SITE VIOLATOR (none / 0) (#30)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Aug 31, 2015 at 06:43:58 AM EST
    ma y threads