Brother of dead suspect in fires at Boston-area Jewish institutions is ordered held

BOSTON (AP) — The brother of a man suspected in four arsons involving Jewish institutions in the Boston area in 2019 was ordered held in custody after appearing in federal court Monday on charges that he obstructed the investigation, according to federal prosecutors.

Alexander Giannakakis, 37, formerly of Quincy, Massachusetts, worked in security at the U.S. embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, when he was arrested by Swedish authorities in 2022. He was recently extradited from Sweden.

Giannakakis’ brother was hospitalized in a coma at the time he was identified as a suspect in February 2020, and he died that year. Federal authorities did not name him.

Giannakakis’ lawyer Bill Kettlewell asked for more time before entering a plea. A decision on bail was postponed until Feb. 13. Kettlewell said he met Giannakakis for the first time Monday morning.

“He just got flown in from Sweden on Saturday, so he’s been in Sweden in custody for the past two years,” said Kettlewell, who added that he’s still familiarizing himself with the case, pointing to a paper bag filled with files and documents.

“This is what I have to begin to look at. All I had over the weekend was the indictment, which is probably only 10-12 pages long,” he said.

Giannakakis was indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston in 2019 on charges of making false statements involving domestic terrorism; falsifying a material fact in a matter involving domestic terrorism; concealing records in a federal investigation; tampering with documents; and tampering with an official proceeding.

Giannakakis was convicted in Sweden of unlawfully possessing a firearm and other weapons. He served a sentence in Swedish prison that ended in December. The Swedish government granted the U.S. extradition request Dec. 21, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

According to the indictment, around February 2020, Giannakakis’ younger brother became the prime suspect in an investigation into four fires set at Jewish-related institutions in the Boston area.

The first occurred May 11, 2019, at a Chabad Center in Arlington; the second at the same location during the evening of May 16, 2019; the third at a Chabad Center in Needham; and the fourth during the evening of May 26, 2019, at a Jewish-affiliated business in Chelsea.

The charges of making false statements in a matter involving domestic terrorism and of falsifying, concealing and covering up a material fact in a matter involving domestic terrorism carry a sentence of up to eight years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

The charges of concealing records in a federal investigation, tampering with documents and objects, and tampering with an official proceeding each carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

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