BOSTON — Earlier today, an indictment was released charging a Massachusetts man with obstructing an investigation into fires started at Jewish-affiliated institutions in Arlington, Needham and Chelsea, Mass. . in May 2019.
Alexander Giannakakis, 35, formerly of Quincy, Mass., was arrested by Swedish authorities in a suburb of Stockholm at the request of the United States. Giannakakis was indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston for making false statements in a case involving domestic terrorism; falsification, concealment and concealment of a material fact in a matter involving domestic terrorism by trickery, scheme and device; concealment of records in a federal investigation; falsification of documents and objects; and tampering with official procedure. The United States is considering seeking his extradition to face charges in Boston.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins said, “Today’s arrest in Stockholm is the result of a close partnership with our state, local, federal and federal law enforcement partners. international organizations, especially our Swedish counterparts. International cooperation is essential to our efforts to achieve justice and accountability for our victims here in Massachusetts.
“On behalf of the FBI Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force, I would like to thank the Swedish Security Service for their assistance in helping us bring justice to the citizens who have been victimized,” Special Agent Joseph R. Bonavolonta said. in charge of the Boston Division of the FBI. “The FBI’s close relationship and close coordination with them was critical to the success of this investigation.”
According to the indictment, in and around February 2020, Giannakakis’ younger brother became the prime suspect in an investigation into four fires that had been set at Jewish-related institutions in the Boston area: the first on the evening of May 11, 2019 at a Chabad Center in Arlington; the second at the same place on the evening of May 16, 2019; the third at a Chabad center in Needham; and the fourth on the evening of May 26, 2019 at a Jewish-affiliated business in Chelsea.
Giannakakis’ younger brother has been hospitalized and in a coma since November 2019, about six months after the fourth fire. He remained in a coma until his death.
Investigators learned that Giannakakis had allegedly left the United States with his younger brother’s electronic devices and papers, and brought them to Sweden. In March 2020, Giannakakis returned to the United States with his brother’s electronics. When Giannakakis was in Quincy, Mass., investigators asked him about his younger brother’s connection to the fires and whether the family had a storage unit. Giannakakis allegedly told investigators that his parents had a storage unit at a nearby storage facility, and later admitted that he maintained and controlled access to it. After a search of the storage unit, Giannakakis was also asked where his brother might have kept property. Giannakakis reportedly replied that there were no other places.
The indictment further alleges that Giannakakis knew these statements and actions were intentionally false and misleading because the previous night he had visited both the storage unit and a second storage unit at the same facility, which contained items belonging to his younger brother, including t-shirts with a swastika depicted on the front, a box with his brother’s name on it, his brother’s passport, a notebook with his brother’s name on it and a swastika drawn inside, and a black backpack containing a bottle of cyanide. Giannakakis allegedly rented the second storage unit himself and registered his younger brother as an authorized user. It is alleged that Giannakakis deliberately lied about the second storage unit and concealed it from investigators to prevent them from seizing his brother’s property.
Finally, the indictment alleges that on March 22, 2020, Giannakakis went to the second storage unit and removed items belonging to his younger brother that were relevant and important to the arson investigation. in progress, including the backpack and the bottle of cyanide. Later that evening, Giannakakis left the United States for Sweden and has not returned since.
The charges of False Statement in a Domestic Terrorism Case and Falsification, Concealment and Concealment of a Material Fact in a Domestic Terrorism Case by Deceit, Scheme and Device each carry a sentence of up to eight years in prison, three years of probation and a fine of $250,000. The charges of concealing records from a federal investigation, tampering with documents and objects, and tampering with official process each carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of probation and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Arlington Police Department Chief Juliann Flaherty; Chief John Schlittler of the Needham Police Department; Chelsea Police Department Chief Brian Kyes; Chief Paul Keenan of the Quincy Police Department; Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey made the announcement today. Substantial assistance was provided by Swedish law enforcement authorities, including the Swedish Security Service, as well as the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and the FBI Boston’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. . The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott L. Garland, acting head of Rollins’ National Security Unit, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason A. Casey and John McNeil, also of Rollins’ Criminal Division.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a court.