Strange News

Strange News – January 10, 2022

from  The Boston Globe

Stimulus for a Terrorist

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On Thursday, US District Court Judge George O’Toole Jr. approved a request by federal prosecutors in Massachusetts to seize funds belonging to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the convicted Boston Marathon bomber. The money, which had accumulated in his prison canteen account, is to be turned over to the court by the Bureau of Prisons and used to pay down some of the $101.1 million that Tsarnaev owes in restitution to his victims and court fees.

Most of the money in Tsarnaev’s account had apparently been gifted to him by private individuals. It is hard to comprehend how anyone could wish to shower money on the unrepentant terrorist, whose bombs killed three innocent bystanders at the Marathon finish line and maimed more than 260 others. (Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan were also responsible for the death of two police officers during the manhunt that followed the bombing.) But here is something even harder to make sense of: A fair-sized chunk of Tsarnaev’s money came from the government of the United States.

As Nathaniel Mendell, the acting US attorney for Massachusetts, pointed out in his request that the funds be turned over, Tsarnaev received a $1,400 COVID-19 relief payment in June as part of the $1.9 trillion “stimulus” package passed by Congress on party-line votes last March.

This wasn’t a surprise, given what had happened with the 2020 CARES Act, which had authorized payments of up to $1,200 per person earlier in the pandemic. The Internal Revenue Service withheld those payments from prisoners, citing the Social Security Act, which restricts government payments to criminals behind bars. But a federal judge, ruling in a class-action lawsuit brought by prison advocates, came down against the IRS and ordered the 2020 payments to be sent to inmates.

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