Government Pays $66K for Testimony Against Tsarnaev Friend
By Karin Friedemann, TMO
Stephen Silva, 21, seen after his November arrest on drug charges, was arrested again in July on federal charges of heroin trafficking and possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number.
Stephen Silva, 21, an immigrant from Cape Verde and childhood friend associate of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was arrested with marijuana in November 2013 but not charged until July 15, 2014 when a Federal Grand Jury suddenly alleged that in February 2013, he â€œknowingly received and possessed a firearm, to wit: a Ruger model P95 9mm pistol, which had the importerâ€™s and manufacturerâ€™s serial number removed, obliterated and altered and had previously been shipped and transported in interstate and foreign commerce.â€
â€œHe has not been charged with anything related to the bombing,â€ stressed Silvaâ€™s attorney Jonathan Shapiro.
The court document filed On July 15, 2014 actually says nothing about the gun being given or sold to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed after a shoot-out with police. Since Tamerlanâ€™s gun was recovered at the scene, and was never found in Silvaâ€™s possession, where is the evidence that Silva ever had a gun?
Jane24 commented on firedoglake that â€œthe narrative promoted, in the most part, by the mainstream media, claims that the firearm alleged to have been in Silvaâ€™s possession, a Ruger P95 9mm pistol, was the weapon used in the murder of MIT Officer Sean Collier on the night of 18th April, 2013. The mainstream media, as has become common in all cases related to the bombing of the Boston marathon, credit their â€œadditional informationâ€ to that most credible source, the â€œanonymous law enforcement official.â€
His friends are shocked by the allegations, because although Silva was known to smoke marijuana, he was not known to deal heroin or possess a gun. Silva was studying political science and planned to go to law school and become a public defender.
â€œHe does not belong in federal prison,â€ said the 20-year-old woman who knew Silva at Cambridge Rindge and Latin and at UMass-Boston and described him as a â€œfun-loving, open person.â€
Silvaâ€™s long time girlfriend Aisha told TMO that â€œall of these charges against him ARE RIDICULOUS and untrue. He should not be punished just because him and Jahar went to the same high school. They are individuals and should take responsibility for their own actions. THERE SHOULD NOT BE GUILT BY ASSOCIATION. I know for a fact what the media is reporting is UNTRUE and not the real Stephen. Therefore, I will stand by Stephenâ€™s side through this,â€ she insisted.
â€œSilva was identified by MBTA police then as a â€˜street-levelâ€™ drug dealer, which is at the bottom of any drug-dealing enterprise,â€ reports Patricial Wen in the Boston Globe. So why is he being targeted with federal charges? Why is he so important?
â€œAs far as we are aware, the FBI has seemingly little evidence to tie either of the Tsarnaev brothers to the murder of Officer Collier. Could it be that they need a witness for the prosecution in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? If this was the case, how far would the FBI be prepared to go in order to attain that witness?â€ asks jane24.
The court document filed Wednesday, September 10, 2014 demonstrates how far they would go. An unnamed cooperating witness â€œCW-1,â€ who is said to have purchased drugs from Silva, and who himself was facing charges, will testify against Silva in exchange for his freedom, $66,025 and various other favors. The document reads:
â€œCW-1 was at one time a member of a violent street gang. At the time CW-1 started cooperating, CW-1â€™s relative was facing federal drug and firearm charges. CW-1â€™s relative, who has also cooperated with the government, has pled guilty to those charges pursuant to a standard cooperation agreement with the US Attorneyâ€™s office.â€
â€œThe witness has received approximately $66,000 from the government for the witnessâ€™s involvement in the Silva case and other investigations. The total includes payments for services, expenses, and relocation costs, as well as vehicle fines,â€ Milton Valencia reports in the Globe.
â€œWhen the witness first began cooperating, he was pulled over for speeding in New Hampshire and had a suspended driverâ€™s license. A state trooper assigned to an FBI task force advised the New Hampshire officer of the witnessâ€™s cooperation. Authorities in New Hampshire towed the witnessâ€™s car but did not cite him. The FBI task force subsequently helped the witness obtain a license allowing him to drive at certain times.
â€œAt one point, the FBI paid an outstanding fine that the witness had with a prior landlord, so that the witness could obtain Section 8 housing.
â€œDuring the time the witness was cooperating with the FBI, he was arrested for failing to pay a civil fine for child support. A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent called a state Department of Revenue attorney asking for the witnessâ€™s release, but the department refused.
â€œThe government has also helped the witness and his family relocate, and has indicated it will provide further assistance to ensure the safety of the witness and his family. The government has refused to identify the witness at this time out of fear that it would â€œput [the witnessâ€™s] safety and the safety of its family in jeopardy.â€
According to the September 10, 2014 court document Silva, who is being held without bail in a secret location, was called before â€œa federal grand jury over a year ago in connection with another matter and invoked his Fifth Amendment rights.â€
Could it be that yet another young immigrant has been targeted with federal incarceration because he had previously failed to cooperate with the FBI?