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Tsarnaev got a COVID relief payment last year. Prosecutors want that and his other cash to go to victims

Since his conviction, Marathon bomber has received thousands in deposits to his inmate account

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev prioritized sending money to his siblings instead of his victims, prosecutors say.Associated Press

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received a $1,400 COVID-19 relief payment last June, and the government is asking a federal judge to order that payment and all other funds in his inmate trust account to be put towards payment of criminal penalties, including restitution for his victims, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Nathaniel Mendell, the acting US attorney for Massachusetts, listed thousands of dollars in deposits that have been made to Tsarnaev’s account in the years since he was convicted for his role in the 2013 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

The filing did not explain how Tsarnaev became eligible to receive a COVID-19 relief payment. The 2020 CARES Act, which authorized payments of up to $1,200 per person during the pandemic, did not exclude inmates in jail or prison, the Associated Press reported.


But the Internal Revenue Service withheld the payments, citing the Social Security Act, which does not allow payments for incarcerated individuals. But a federal judge, in a lawsuit brought by prison advocates, ruled in September, 2020 that inmates were eligible for the COVID relief funds, according to the AP.

Tsarnaev continues to be held in federal custody at a supermax prison in Florence, Colo.

Mendell is asking the court to order the Bureau of Prisons to turn the cash over to the Clerk of the Court, including any funds subject to administrative hold by the bureau, according to the documents.

In 2016, the court ordered Tsarnaev to pay a $3,000 special assessment and $101,126,627 in criminal restitution. So far, Tsarnaev has paid $2,202.03, all of which has gone toward the special assessment, according to the documents.

While he has not paid any money toward the victims of the attack, Tsarnaev has sent money to other third parties, including to his siblings for “gifts,” “support,” and “books,” according to the documents. These payments added up to $2,000, according to the documents.


Tsarnaev had $3,885.06 in his inmate trust account as of Dec. 22, according to the documents.

“After the Defendant’s sentencing, deposits into the Defendant’s inmate trust account became more frequent,” Mendell wrote in the court filing.

An inmate may have a trust account for any money they make through prison employment or funds that are deposited by outside sources, such as family or friends, according to the court documents. The account is maintained by the Bureau of Prisons.

In addition to the COVID relief payment he received on June 22, Tsarnaev also took in $11,230 in donations from the Office of Federal Defenders of New York between May 2016 and June 2021.

A person living in Indianapolis made monthly payments from August 2015 to August of last year, totaling $2,555 in deposits.

From August 2015 to December 2017, a person living in Bloomfield, N.J., made monthly payments of $50 for a total of $1,450.

And from September 2013 to December 2018, a person living in Frederick, Maryland, made periodic deposits that totaled $950, according to the court documents.

Tsarnaev also received a total of $3,486.60 from 32 individuals, prosecutors said.

Tsarnaev did not notify the court that he had received these payments, which is required under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act, Mendell wrote in the filing.

“The United States submits that the requested relief is reasonable and appropriate in this instance, especially in light of the Defendant prioritizing payments to his siblings over the victims of his crimes,” Mendell wrote.