Rep. Ted Budd Demands Answers from Treasury Over Boston Bomber’s Stimulus Check

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) sent a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen regarding the revelation that convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had received a $1,400 stimulus check from the American Rescue Plan while in federal prison.

Rep. Budd is asking the Treasury Department for a full list of federal prisoners who received taxpayer-funded checks, as well as a full accounting of how many federal dollars were sent to individuals in federal prison.

The full text of the letter is below:

Secretary Yellen:

I write to express my profound concern that the U.S. Department of Treasury sent federal tax dollars to a notorious convicted murderer and terrorist in federal prison.

A January 5, 2022, court filing by the acting United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts revealed that Mr. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sent a $1,400 Economic Impact Payment (EIP) on June 22, 2021. Those payments were authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021. Prosecutors are seeking these funds “as payment towards his outstanding criminal monetary penalties, including unpaid special assessment and restitution.” The filing states Mr. Tsarnaev’s payment is being held in an inmate trust account administered by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

As you are no doubt aware, Mr. Tsarnaev is one of the two individuals involved in the 2013 terrorist bombings at the Boston Marathon that killed three people including an 8-year-old boy and injured more than 250 other people. Mr. Tsarnaev was also responsible for the murder of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier three days later. He was convicted in 2015 and sentenced to the death penalty for these heinous crimes.

Taxpayer money should never be sent to individuals who are serving in federal prison for truly evil crimes like murder, terrorism, and rape. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats rejected an amendment to the ARPA that would have prevented these payments. In July 2021, Internal Revenue Service documents revealed that 560,000 incarcerated individuals received ARPA stimulus checks, totaling $783.5 million.

To better understand this troubling situation, I request you provide my office the following information by February 15, 2022:

  1. As of January 1, 2022, how many incarcerated individuals received EIPs from the American Rescue Plan Act?

  2. As of January 1, 2022, how much money did incarcerated individuals receive in EIPs from the American Rescue Plan Act?

  3. Were these funds deposited into inmate trust accounts or sent to third parties (including family members)?

  4. Is the Treasury Department working with the Department of Justice to identify federal prisoners with outstanding criminal fines and restitution who received stimulus checks? If not, will your department commit to doing so?

As a member of the House Committee on Financial Services, I look forward to your prompt reply to this letter.

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