San Bernardino massacre yields second
immigration fraud conviction
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[January 27, 2017]
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Russian-born
wife of the California man accused of supplying guns used by another
couple who killed 14 people in San Bernardino pleaded guilty on Thursday
to federal immigration fraud charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Mariya Chernykh, 26, became the second person convicted in an
immigration fraud scheme linked to the December 2015 massacre by Syed
Rizwan Farook and his Pakistani-born wife, Tashfeen Malik, who
authorities said were inspired by Islamic extremism.
The man she admitted paying to marry her, Enrique Marquez Jr., is
charged with furnishing two assault rifles used in the shooting rampage
by Farook, a U.S. native of Pakistani descent, and Malik, whom he
married in 2014 in Saudi Arabia.
The couple were killed in a gunfight with police four hours after the
Marquez also is accused of having plotted with Farook to stage similar
shooting attacks in the suburbs east of Los Angeles in 2011 and 2012
that were never carried out. He is scheduled to go on trial on Sept. 26.
Farook's brother, Syed Raheel Farook, 31, pled guilty to a single count
of conspiracy to commit fraud earlier this month, admitting that he lied
on immigration forms that paved the way for Chernykh, his wife's sister,
to engage in a fraudulent marriage to Marquez.
Chernykh, a Russian citizen, pled guilty to charges of conspiracy,
perjury and making false statements, and now faces a maximum penalty of
20 years in prison and a $1 million fine when she is sentenced in
November, according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los
Angeles. Her would-be brother-in-law, Raheel Farook, could receive up to
five years in prison.
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A memorial stands outside the Inland Regional Center (IRC) where 14
people were massacred last month by a married couple inspired by
Islamist militants in San Bernardino, California, January 4, 2016.
REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo
His wife, Tatiana Farook, a third defendant in the immigration fraud
case, is slated to go on trial in March.
The slaying of Rizwan's Farook's co-workers at a holiday office
party on Dec. 2, 20015, ranks as one of the deadliest attacks by
Islamist militants in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, al
Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.
In addition to acknowledging in court on Thursday that she falsified
immigration documents and paid Marquez to participate in the sham
marriage, Chernykh admitted making false statements to federal
investigators in the immediate aftermath of the San Bernardino
attack, authorities said.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sandra Maler)
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