Robel Phillipos after release in Boston bombings: ‘This is crazy’

BOSTON — A federal judge Monday agreed to release one of the friends of Boston Marathon suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on $100,000 bond, on the condition he remain confined to his mother’s home and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

Robel Phillipos, whose bond was secured by property put up by a third party, was released late Monday afternoon.

Wearing an oversized black men’s jacket over a white dress shirt, he was ushered by his family and lawyers into a waiting car. He did not respond when asked whether he wanted to comment on the allegations that he helped dispose of incriminating evidence. As family told him to “hurry, hurry” into the car to avoid media, he said, “This is crazy,” just before getting in.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler said Phillipos, 19, will be allowed to leave his mother’s home only for medical emergencies or to meet with his attorney. She also ordered him not to use illegal drugs or alcohol.

During the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Capin said papers filed by Phillipos’ lawyers — including numerous affidavits from family and friends attesting to his good character — could be viewed as questioning the government’s case against Phillipos.

Despite agreeing to Phillipos’ pretrial release, “The government stands by its allegations,” Capin said.

Outside court, attorneys for Phillipos said their client had no prior knowledge of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Phillipos was a marketing major with a minor in sociology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and slated to graduate in 2015, according to papers filed with the court.

The university has said Phillipos was not enrolled at the time of his arrest.

Phillipos, of Cambridge, Mass., was arrested by the FBI last week along with two men from Kazakhstan after allegedly lying about the disposal of incriminating evidence from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

The move is a shift for federal prosecutors, who last week said they thought Phillipos was a flight risk and should continue to be detained.

Before the hearing, court papers filed Monday by Phillipos’ attorney and U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said the lawyers had agreed upon a plan to free Phillipos.

“Since the initial appearance, the parties have conferred extensively and now agree that the court can fashion strict conditions of release that will reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance at future proceedings,” the court papers said.

Phillipos faces a maximum of eight years in prison if convicted.

Authorities say he lied to investigators about visiting Tsarnaev’s dorm room three days after the bombings.

Phillipos’ lawyers argued that his presence on the UMass Dartmouth campus on the day the other friends allegedly removed evidence from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room was a coincidence and that it had been more than two months since he had spoken to the bombing suspect or the other two arrested men.


(Staff writer Gary Dymski contributed to this story.)


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