Marathon bombing suspect’s friend pleads guilty

Last modified: Thursday, August 21, 2014
BOSTON — A college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded guilty Thursday to impeding the investigation by removing incriminating evidence from Tsarnaev’s dorm room several days after the deadly attack.

Dias Kadyrbayev, 20, admitted in federal court that he removed Tsarnaev’s laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks that had been emptied of their explosive powder from Tsarnaev’s room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

Twin bombs placed near the finish line of the 2013 marathon killed three people and injured more than 260.

Under a plea agreement, federal prosecutors said they would ask for no more than seven years in prison. The agreement allows his lawyer to argue for a lesser sentence. Kadyrbayev also agreed not to fight deportation after he completes his prison sentence.

U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock set sentencing for Nov. 18 but did not immediately accept the plea agreement, saying he first wanted to review a report that will be prepared by the probation department.

Kadyrbayev’s decision to plead guilty came just two weeks before he was scheduled to go on trial and a month after his friend and co-conspirator, Azamat Tazhayakov, was convicted of identical charges by a jury.

During Tazhayakov’s trial, prosecutors described Kadyrbayev as the leader in the decision to remove the items, but said Tazhayakov agreed with the plan. They said Kadyrbayev was the one who actually threw away the backpack and fireworks, which were later recovered in a landfill.

Kadyrbayev’s lawyer, Robert Stahl, said his client made a “terrible error in judgment that he’s paying for dearly.”

Stahl emphasized that Kadyrbayev — a native of Kazakhstan who came to the U.S. in 2011 on a student visa — “had absolutely no knowledge” that Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were planning to bomb the marathon and was “shocked and horrified” when he learned they were suspects.

He said Kadyrbayev, who was 19 at the time, “now understands he never should have gone to that dorm room, and he never should have taken any items from that room.”

His plea agreement with prosecutors does not make any mention of him agreeing to testify against a third friend who was also charged. Robel Phillipos, of Cambridge, is accused of lying to investigators about being present when Kadyrbayev took the items from Tsarnaev’s room. Phillipos is scheduled to go on trial next month.

Typically, plea agreements describe whether defendants have given substantial assistance to prosecutors and have agreed to testify against co-defendants.

The backpack, fireworks and laptop were taken from Tsarnaev’s room hours after the FBI publicly released photographs and videos of Tsarnaev and his brother as suspects in the bombing.

Prosecutors said Kadyrbayev exchanged text messages with Tsarnaev after seeing the photos, and Tsarnaev told him he could go to his dorm room and “take what’s there.”

Prosecutors said the fireworks had been emptied of explosive powder that can be used to make bombs.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police several days after the bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted. His trial is scheduled to begin in November.

State auditor reviews
workers’ compensation system

BOSTON (AP) — A new state audit has made recommendations to improve accountability and efficiency in the workers’ compensation system.

State Auditor Suzanne Bump said Thursday that her office’s review found that the Department of Industrial Accidents, which oversees the system, does not ensure that assessments paid out by insurance companies are accurate.

Bump says the audit has already led to a number of improvements at the department, including the hiring two internal auditors to review insurance assessments. The audit examined fee collections, claims payments, and internal procedures from July 1, 2010 to Sept. 30, 2012.

All private employers in Massachusetts are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance and pay claims by individuals through a commercial insurance policy, self-insurance, or membership in a self-insurance group.

AG’s settlement with lobbyist draws scrutiny from secretary of state

BOSTON (AP)— Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin says he plans to launch his own inquiry into a case involving a former state lawmaker who is now a lobbyist.

Galvin, a Democrat whose office regulates lobbying, told The Boston Globe that a settlement Attorney General Martha Coakley recently reached with the lobbying firm run by John Brennan, “raises more questions than it answers.”

Coakley, a Democratic candidate for governor, said the firm took in $370,000 in improper lobbying fees from a client, the Franciscan Hospital for Children. The settlement required that Brennan repay $100,000 to the hospital and the firm made no admission of guilt.

Coakley defended the settlement and her office said a criminal investigation would have been risky because it could have resulted in no money being repaid to the hospital.

Springfield man gets up to four years for shooting girl waiting for sneakers

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A Springfield man has been sentenced to up to four years in prison for shooting an 11-year-old girl waiting in line outside a store selling the latest Nike Air Jordan sneakers.

The Republican reports that Kenny Bynum was also sentenced to five years of probation after pleading guilty to charges including armed assault with intent to murder in connection with the March 2013 shooting.

Authorities say an orderly line had formed outside the store just before it was scheduled to open, but several people trying to cut sparked a confrontation.

The girl, thought to be an innocent bystander, was struck in the leg and survived.

The 20-year-old Bynum was told to stay away from the girl and her family, and remain employed while out on bail.

Girls pulled unconscious
from Cape Cod hotel pool

YARMOUTH (AP) — Two young sisters from New York vacationing on Cape Cod are in critical condition at a Boston hospital after being pulled unconscious from a motel swimming pool.

Police and paramedics, as well EMTs from a passing Dennis ambulance, responded to the Bayside Resort Hotel in Yarmouth around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The sisters, 9 and 12 years old, had already been pulled from an 8-foot deep section of the pool by other guests and family members but were not breathing. The girls were revived and taken to Cape Cod Hospital before being flown to Boston Children’s Hospital, where police said they were listed in critical condition.

Police say the girls were being supervised by an uncle at the time. There was no lifeguard on duty.

The investigation into the incident is continuing.

Residents of Wellesley told
to boil water after E. coli found

WELLESLEY (AP) — Wellesley residents and businesses are being told to boil their water before using after a test detected E. coli at a town reservoir.

The notice issued on Thursday urges all Wellesley water customers to boil tap water for at least one minute before drinking or use in food preparation or other purposes such as brushing teeth.

Officials are trying to determine the source of the contamination. They say while the potential risks are relatively low, the town wanted to take every precaution to protect public health.

Four arrested after 1,000 pounds
of marijuana found hidden in corn

STOUGHTON (AP) — Four people are facing charges after police say they found more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana hidden in crates of corn in an Avon warehouse.

Jett Ezedi, Donnelley Ray, Stephan Durrant and Sheena Hamilton were arraigned in Stoughton District Court on Wednesday on multiple charges including trafficking marijuana and carrying a firearm without a license.

The Enterprise reports they were arrested after an investigation that culminated in a search of the warehouse on Tuesday.

Inside, police say they found several large boxes on wooden pallets filled with ears of corn. The marijuana was concealed in the boxes of corn.

Security guard charged in crime
spree at retirement complex

WESTWOOD (AP)— A security guard at an apartment complex for retirees in Westwood has been charged with stealing from residents.

Police say tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry and other valuables was stolen from the homes of Fox Hill Village residents while they were either on vacation or away for extended periods of time going back to October.

Police say there were never any forced entries and no fingerprints were ever left behind.

After installing hidden cameras, authorities caught images of a man wearing latex gloves in an apartment without permission of the resident. Police arrested 60-year-old Frank Tarr, of Middleborough, a security guard at the complex.

He was released on $500 bail after pleading not guilty to larceny charges. Tarr could not be reached.

Early morning Boston blaze
leaves one dead, nine hurt

BOSTON (AP) — Boston investigators say an electrical problem is to blame for a fire that left one person dead and nine other injured.

Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn says the blaze started at about 7:30 a.m. Thursday in a multi-family home in the city’s Brighton neighborhood, spreading to the roof and the building next door.

Finn said the man who died was found in the basement and may have re-entered the home trying to help others escape.

Five firefighters were among those hurt. None of the injuries were believed to be life-threatening.

The fire department said later Thursday on its official Twitter account that investigators had determined the blaze was caused by an electrical short circuit in a first-floor kitchen.

About two dozen people lived in the home, but not all of them were home.