Man who gave gun to Boston bomber Tsarnaev freed after pleading for 'second chance'

An admitted drug dealer, Stephen Silva said Tuesday he wished he could "go back in time" and change what he did.

Doug G. Ware

BOSTON, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- The man who loaned a handgun to terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which was used to kill a police officer following the Boston Marathon bombings nearly three years ago, was ordered released Tuesday after spending a year-and-a-half in prison.

Stephen Silva pleaded guilty to gun and narcotics charges at trial before Tuesday's sentencing. At the hearing, Silva pleaded with U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf for leniency.


"Your Honor, I'm just pleading for a second chance,'' Silva, 22, said. "I wish I could go back in time and change my actions. I was young, dumb, and thought I could outsmart everyone."

Wolf sentenced Silva to time served -- 17 months -- meaning he was to be released from custody immediately.

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Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of 18 months.

Silva gave Tsarnaev the handgun that was used to shoot Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier three days after the marathon bombings nearly three years ago. However, prosecutors and the judge said Silva cooperated with authorities and helped convict Tsarnaev during his federal prosecution.

"Silva cooperated in and testified at one of the most important terrorism cases in Massachusetts history,'' federal prosecutors wrote.

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According to investigators, Tsarnaev had told Silva that he needed the gun to rob a drug dealer -- but did not disclose plans hatched by he and his older brother, Tamerlan, to bomb the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.

"I had no idea that the firearm I lent to Tsarnaev would be used in the way it was,'' Silva told Wolf.

Silva was a casual acquaintance of Tsarnaev's, prosecutors said, and once earned about $3,000 per month selling marijuana and heroin. At one time, he sold narcotics to undercover federal agents.

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Three people, including an 8-year-old boy, died in the explosions near the finish line at the marathon. Two police officers, including MIT's Collier, later died during the manhunt for the bombers. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during a shootout with police in nearby Watertown when, officials said, he was run over by a fleeing SUV driven by his younger brother.

Nearly two years after the attack, on April 8, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted on 30 criminal counts. On June 24, he was sentenced to die by lethal injection and subsequently transported to a maximum-security prison in Colorado.

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