RIVERSIDE: Three people with close family connections to the couple accountable for the San Bernardino terror attack were arrested Thursday in an apparent marriage-fraud scheme linking a pair of Russian sisters.
The accused include Syed Raheel Farook. His brother and sister-in-law,Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, died in a shootout with police after killing 14 people and wounding 22 others on Dec 2.
Also arrested in the marriage-fraud case were Syed Raheel Farook’s wife, Tatiana, and her sister, Mariya Chernykh. Prosecutors say Mariya’s marriage to Enrique Marquez Jr, the only person charged in the shootings, was a sham designed to enable her to obtain legal status in the United States after overstaying a visitor visa in 2009.
Marquez admitted to the arrangement when establishments interrogated him about the killings, and he recognized getting $200 a month to marry Chernykh, according to his illegal criticism.
The three each arrived not guilty pleas at an charge late Thursday afternoon in federal court in Riverside. They were ordered to stand trial June 21 in federal court in Los Angeles. Federal Judge David Bristow also scheduled a pre-trial conference for June 6 in Los Angeles.
Bristow ordered that Chernykh, who prosecutors claim was most guilty for the pretence marriage, be subject to electronic monitoring. Her boyfriend, who is the father of her child, arrived in court late Thursday afternoon to tell the judge he would post her $50,000 bond.
The mother of the Farook brothers posted bonds of $25,000 each for her oldest son and his wife. Her son left court shortly thereafter, declining to speak to reporters. His wife was expected to be released later in the evening.
Farook, who like the others appeared in court with shackles on his hands and feet, wept at times during his arraignment and bail hearing, including when his mother came forward to tell the judge she was posting bail.
“This is about a misrepresentation of an act of marriage. This is not about terrorism,” his attorney, Ronald Cordova, told Bristow as he argued for a reasonable bail, maintaining that Farook is not a flight risk or a danger to society.
Outside court he said Farook has liaised with federal authorities through the terrorist investigation.
“I think his thorough cooperation may have led to some of the trouble he’s going through now,” Cordova said, adding that in discussing his family situation forthrightly Farook never stopped to consider that he might be involved in any illegal activity regarding his sister-in-law’s marriage.