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Feds paid witness $66,000 in case against Tsarnaev friend

Federal prosecutors said they handed over $66,000 to an unidentified witness who has helped them in a case against a friend of accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Stephen Silva of Cambridge pleaded not guilty in federal court in Boston on Wednesday. Photo: TPD Stephen Silva of Cambridge pleaded not guilty in federal court in Boston on Wednesday. Photo: TPD

Federal prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday they handed over $66,000 to an unidentified witness who has helped them in a case against a friend of accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The friend, 21-one-year-old Stephen Silva, pleaded not guilty in federal court last month to trafficking heroin and possessing an illegal handgun. He allegedly supplied the gun that Tsarnaev and his late brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev used intheshooting death of MIT during a manhunt after the deadly April 15, 2013 bombings.Federal prosecutors said they paid over $66,000 to an unidentified witness who has helped them in a case against a friend of accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

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The witness was cooperating in the drug investigation against Silva, and was at one time a member of a violent street gang who was facing federal gun and firearm charges, according to court papers filed Wednesday. The money he received covers "payments for services, expenses, and relocation" as well as vehicle fines.

"I think [$66,000] is an unusually high amount," said Suffolk University law professor Chris Dearborn. "It is something the general public should be uncomfortable with. It's our tax dollars, right?"

Despite the public's potential outrage, Dearborn said it's "perfectly legal and ethical" for feds to reward witnesses aiding in an investigation.

"A lot of situations like this can get pretty unsavory," he said, adding that if the witness testifies he should "be treated with very cautious eyes."

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS

 
 
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