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April 26, 2013

State GOP targets suspects' benefits

BOSTON — Republican leaders in the state House and Senate, including Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, who raised the issue Wednesday, are pressing the Patrick administration to compile detailed information on the type and amount of public assistance benefits paid to the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.

House Minority Leader Brad Jones said he contacted the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to request that the administration delve deeper into the welfare assistance provided by Massachusetts to dead bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his family in the years leading up to the April 15 terror attack.

Jones also asked that the Department of Transitional Assistance verify whether all family members met eligibility requirements when applying for public benefits.

“The findings of the investigation are vitally important in assuring that taxpayer subsidized benefits are being acquired and used in an appropriate manner,” Jones said in a statement Wednesday.

Tarr, R-Gloucester, reiterated his concerns, calling 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 has confirmed that the families of bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were recipients of public welfare assistance. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who lived in Cambridge, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was a student at UMass-Dartmouth, received benefits through their parents when they were younger.

Loftus said that the Tsarnaevs’ parents were former recipients of transitional assistance benefits and that, separately, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his family received benefits until 2012, “when the family became ineligible based on their income.”

“The brothers were not receiving transitional assistance benefits at the time of the incident and have not received any transitional assistance benefits this year,” he said.

Asked Wednesday about the duration and amount of benefits received by the Tsarneov families, Loftus did not provide that information and indicated he did not expect to have any further details to release.

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