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              The mother of the two Boston bombing suspects, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, is at a news conference in Makhachkala, the southern Russian province of Dagestan, Thursday, April 25, 2013. The father of the two Boston bombing suspects said Thursday that he is leaving Russia for the United States in the next day or two, but their mother said she was still thinking it over. (AP Photo/Musa Sadulayev)

Mass gov’t cites bombers privacy, won’t release Tsarnaev welfare information

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

Citing privacy concerns, Massachusetts state government officials are refusing to release records of the welfare benefits the Boston marathon bombers and their families received, the Boston Herald reports.

The publication revealed Wednesday that late bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev received government benefits, as did his wife, young daughter, parents and accomplice brother Dzhokhar.

But so far, the administration of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has refused to specify the type of benefits and how much they received, reports the Herald.

From EBT status to unemployment benefits, housing assistance to government-funded cell phones, Patrick’s administration will not release information about the bombers taxpayer-funded benefits.

State welfare spokesman Alec Loftus would only confirm Tsarnaev, his wife and his daughter received benefits until 2012, but would offer no further comment. Labor department spokesman Kevin Franck refused to tell the Herald if ever received unemployment, saying the matter was “confidential and not a matter of public record.”

Questions about college aid for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were similarly dismissed, with University of Massachusetts Dartmouth spokesman Robert Connolly also citing privacy concerns.

“It is our position — and I believe the accepted position in higher education — that student records including academic records and financial records (including financial aid) cannot under federal law be released without a student’s consent,” Connolly told the Herald.

The Federal Communications Commission would not disclose whether the brothers had taxpayer-funded cell phones. Authorities also declined to say whether the family received Section 8 housing assistance.

The Herald notes that the taxpayer funding for the Tsarnaevs continues, as the state is paying for Dzhokhar’s medical bills and court-appointed lawyers.

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