BOSTON – A recently indicted friend of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of destroying evidence and lying to investigators after prosecutors said he had shown a “pattern of deceit” that included using false names to send money overseas.
Khairullozhon Matanov, 23, is accused of deleting computer files and lying to agents investigating the 2013 bombings, which killed three and injured more than 260.
At a detention hearing, Matanov waived his right to seek release on bail. His lawyer said Matanov, who came to the United States from Kyrgyzstan in 2010, has no family here, lost his job as a cab driver after his indictment last week and has nowhere to go if he were released.
Prosecutors portrayed Matanov as a close friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and an acquaintance of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the two brothers authorities say planted two bombs near the marathon’s finish line.
Through the testimony of an FBI agent, they also described a series of money transfers in which they said Matanov often used fake names.
Agent Timothy McElroy said that between 2010 and 2013, Matanov sent more than $71,000 to 15 people in six countries. McElroy said agents determined that most of the money – about $56,590 – was sent to Matanov’s family, while the rest – about $14,800 – went to nonfamily.
Matanov’s lawyer, Edward Hayden, said the money transfers “had nothing to do with terrorism.”
“He was uncomfortable sending all the money in his own name,” he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Garland said Matanov had repeatedly deceived authorities when questioned about his relationship with Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the days after the bombings. Garland said his “pattern of deceit” was also shown through Matanov’s use of aliases when sending money. He also argued Matanov was a flight risk.
Hayden attempted to show that Matanov cooperated with police.
McElroy acknowledged that Matanov went to police in the Boston suburb of Braintree the morning after the FBI released photographs of the Tsarnaevs and gave them the brothers’ address and phone numbers. That was hours before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured hiding in a boat in Watertown. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police earlier that day.
Hayden said Matanov was angry when he learned the Tsarnaevs were suspects in the bombings.
“He calls them names that you can’t put on TV,” he told reporters.
McElroy said the FBI began following Matanov after he came forward.
McElroy also said that federal prosecutors told Matanov’s attorney to urge his client to stay away from Boston’s July Fourth celebration because “the city was on edge following the marathon bombings.” Matanov was also told to stay away from this year’s marathon on April 21. Hayden said he complied with the requests.
In his interview with Braintree police, Matanov said he was surprised to learn the Tsarnaevs were suspects in the bombings.
“I can’t believe it, I can’t believe that happened with them … they were nice people, like the way they talk,” Matanov told a detective, according to a transcript released Wednesday.
Prosecutors say Matanov called Tamerlan Tsarnaev about 40 minutes after the bombings and invited him to dinner. Hayden said the men talked about the bombings during dinner “like everyone else discussed the bombings,” but that the Tsarnaevs did not reveal anything about their alleged role in the attack.