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Tsarnaev friend plans to plead guilty

The Quincy cab driver who was a friend of the Tsarnaev brothers and who took both of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers out to dinner only hours after the deadly terror attack, said in court records Monday that he plans to plead guilty to destroying evidence related to the investigation.

Khairullozhon Matanov, 24, filed the notice with the court in agreement with federal prosecutors just as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial is beginning in federal court in Boston, indicating he may be cooperating with authorities.

His lawyer, Paul M. Glickman, would not comment Monday night. He did not publicly state the terms of the agreement. But several of Tsarnaev’s other friends have also pleaded guilty to obstruction charges in advance of his trial under agreements that they will cooperate with authorities investigating the April 15, 2013, bombings, in exchange for lighter penalties.


Matanov, who has been held without bail since his arrest last May, had been scheduled to go to trial in June on charges that he destroyed evidence related to the bombings by deleting his Internet search history from his computer. He also allegedly tried to dispose of cellphones, and lied about details of his encounters with Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the hours and days after the bombings.

According to court records, he took the brothers out to a restaurant in Cambridge on the night of the explosions, although he told authorities he knew nothing of their involvement. He said he only realized they set off the two bombs after their photos were released to the public.

Authorities said that he then allegedly deleted his Internet search history and other materials, interfering with their investigation, even though he realized investigators might have an interest in the information. Authorities had tracked Matanov for several months before he was arrested.

Matanov has not been charged with taking part in the bombings.


He has told authorities that he met Tamerlan at a Cambridge mosque several years before the attacks that killed three people and injured more than 260.

Assistant US Attorney Scott Garland has said that Matanov faces 15 years in prison under sentencing guidelines.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now 21, faces multiple charges that carry the possibility of the death penalty, for allegedly setting off the bombs at the Marathon.

He and his older brother and alleged accomplice, Tamerlan, also allegedly shot and killed an MIT police officer before attempting to flee the area. Tamerlan, 26, was killed in a confrontation with police.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial began last week with the initial stages of jury selection, and more than 1,350 potential jurors in several groups filled out surveys that could help determine whether they are suitable to serve. On Monday, lawyers agreed to immediately exclude 124 jurors.

Several of Tsarnaev’s friends have already been convicted in federal court, though none took part in the bombings.

Two of his college friends at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth were convicted last summer of destroying evidence, after they removed a backpack containing fireworks from his dorm room.

One of them pleaded guilty and agreed to serve seven years in prison in exchange for his cooperation against Tsarnaev.

A third friend was convicted in October of lying to authorities about seeing the other two friends take the backpack from the dorm room.

In this courtroom sketch, Khairullozhon Matanov, right, with attorney Paul Glickman, appeared in federal court Friday, May 30, 2014.Jane Flavell Collins/Associated Press

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at