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Brother of San Bernardino terror shooter pleads guilty in marriage fraud case

Brother of San Bernardino terror shooter pleads guilty in marriage fraud case
Syed Raheel Farook, left, is released on bail at the Riverside Federal Courthouse in April 2016. He and wife, Tatiana Farook, have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud related to a sham marriage. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Syed Raheel Farook, whose younger brother was one of the two terrorists who killed 14 people at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino in December 2015, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to conspiracy to commit a crime in relation to a marriage fraud case for which he was charged months after the attack.

FBI agents arrested Farook; his wife, Tatiana Farook; and her sister, Mariya Chernykh, in April on charges of marriage fraud. The charges stemmed from Chernykh's marriage to Enrique Marquez, who was charged with buying weapons used by Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, in the Dec. 2, 2015, attack.

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Chernykh is a Russian citizen, and prosecutors said she married Marquez to obtain legal U.S. residency, even though the two did not live together and never actually had a marriage ceremony.

Syed Raheel Farook and his wife, Tatiana, helped the couple plan and execute the fraud, prosecutors said.

The case against the elder Farook, his wife and sister-in-law, was not related to the Dec. 2 shootings. However,  authorities learned of the marriage scheme in the aftermath of the attack.

Farook, who is free on bail, is scheduled to be sentenced in November.

Farook faces a maximum of five years in federal prison under the charge. His attorney, Ron Cordova, declined to comment on why Farook agreed to plead guilty.

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