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Sister-in-law of San Bernardino terror attack shooter pleads guilty in marriage fraud case

San Bernardino
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)

The sister-in-law of one of two shooters in the San Bernardino terror attack pleaded guilty Thursday to helping arrange a sham marriage that was uncovered in the aftermath of the attack. 

Tatiana Farook, 32, entered a guilty plea in federal district court in Riverside to one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. 

She is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 13. Farook faces up to five years in federal prison.

Tatiana Farook is married to Syed Raheel Farook, the older brother of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook. The younger Farook carried out the Dec. 2, 2015, attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino with his wife, Tashfeen Malik. The shooting during a staff Christmas party left 14 people dead and 22 others wounded.

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Tatiana Farook is accused of helping plan and arrange the fraudulent marriage between her sister, Mariya Chernykh, and Enrique Marquez Jr., according to court documents.

Marquez, who was a longtime friend of Syed Rizwan Farook, is charged with buying weapons used by the couple in the attack, the U.S. attorney’s office said. He was a neighbor of the couple.

Prosecutors said Chernykh, a Russian citizen who came to the U.S. on a short-term visa in 2009, married Marquez to obtain legal U.S. residency. The couple did not live together and never had a marriage ceremony.

According to prosecutors, Syed Raheel Farook created a fraudulent lease agreement that suggested Marquez and Chernykh had been living together with he and his wife since November 2014.

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Syed Raheel Farook pleaded guilty on Jan. 10 to conspiracy to commit immigration fraud. Chernykh pleaded guilty on Jan. 26 to conspiracy, perjury and making false statements to the FBI.

The charges against the trio are not connected to the 2015 shootings. But details of the marriage scam were uncovered during the shooting investigation. 

With Tatiana Farook’s plea, U.S. Atty. Eileen M. Decker said prosecutors are closer to wrapping up their cases stemming from the attack. 

“Specifically, three members of the shooters’ family now face federal prison,” Decker said. “These convictions are a testament to law enforcement’s ongoing commitment to ensure that everyone related to the terrorist attack are brought to justice.”

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA 

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