GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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May 24, 2013

Senate OKs Tarr bill to recoup terrorist benefits

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Senate has adopted a proposal allowing Massachusetts to recoup public benefits given to anyone later convicted of using of a weapon of mass destruction.

Gloucester Republican and state Senate Minority Leader Sen. Bruce Tarr offered the proposal as an amendment to the Senate version of the state budget.

It would allow the attorney general to recover “any and all money” from anyone convicted of a terrorist act “who has previously collected public assistance, financial assistance or received any other direct financial benefit from the state.”

The money would benefit any victims of the attack.

“Welfare benefits should be for people who need a hand to support themselves and their families when they are in need, not violent predators who commit acts of terrorism and unthinkable violence against innocent people,” said Tarr.

The amendment, now part of the Senate’s fiscal 2014 state budget proposal, would create an account where any and all public assistances funds would be provided to the victims who may have suffered at the hands of a terrorist act.

State officials have confirmed that Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his wife and toddler daughter received welfare benefits. Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police chase three nights later in Watertown. His 19-year-old brother, Dzhohkar, was arrested after an intensive manhunt the next day.

The brothers also received welfare benefits as children through their parents.

Tarr had taken the lead in decrying the welfare benefits collected by the terrorists as soon as the state’s Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the reports within days of the April 15 bombings and subsequent shootout with the suspects.

Tarr called it “angering to see that those who perpetrated such a merciless and cowardly act of terrorism had been receiving state benefits funded by public dollars.”

Health and Human Services spokesman Alec Loftus said that the Tsarnaev brothers “were not receiving transitional assistance benefits at the time of the incident and have not received any transitional assistance benefits this year.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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