BOSTON — A sister of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded guilty Tuesday to misleading a police detective during a counterfeiting investigation, avoiding jail time in an agreement with prosecutors.
Ailina Tsarnaeva, 24, entered the plea in South Boston Municipal Court. If she avoids further legal trouble for 30 days, she will be free of any court supervision. If she does get into trouble, the judge could sentence her up to 2 ½ years in jail.
Prosecutors said Tsarnaeva failed to cooperate with a police officer investigating the passing of a counterfeit bill by a group of people eating at an Applebee's restaurant in the South Bay Center, a mall in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, on April 16, 2010. A server saw the group leaving and wrote down their license plate number.
Police traced the car to Tsarnaeva at her family's Cambridge home. When questioned, Tsarnaeva said she did not know the names of the people she picked up from the restaurant, according to the police report. She also told police that she had not lied but "did not want to be a snitch," according to the report.
In court Tuesday, Tsarnaeva's lawyer, George Gormley, acknowledged that Tsarnaeva had misled police but said her motivation was to protect a female friend, not the person who allegedly passed the counterfeit bill. Gormley said he obtained the name of that person from Tsarnaeva's friend and gave it to prosecutors.
Assistant District Attorney William Champlin IV said the disposition was appropriate because of the age of the case and Tsarnaeva's acceptance of responsibility by pleading guilty.
Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley, said prosecutors also considered separate charges pending against Tsarnaeva in New York, where she is accused of threatening to "put a bomb" on a perceived romantic rival.
"The most effective way of handling this and not interfering with her other pending case is to place this conviction on file, which allows the judge to re-sentence her if she re-offends at any time during the next 30 days and also prevents any appellate challenges to the conviction," Wark said.
Tsarnaeva left the courthouse without commenting, carrying an infant and covering her head with the hood of a fur coat.
Tsarnaeva's brother could be sentenced to death if he's found guilty in the marathon bombing, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial in January.
Federal prosecutors say Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, planted two bombs near the 2013 marathon finish line. Tamerlan Tsarnaev later was killed in a shootout with police.