Gun Buyer in San Bernardino Shooting Pleads Guilty

Enrique Marquez, Jr., 25, the one time next door neighbor of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his straw purchase of two rifles he bought for Farook in 2012, which Farook then used during the 2015 San Bernardino shootings.

He also pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorists, which carries a possible sentence of up to 25 years. But the charge wasn't about the San Bernardino shootings -- it was related to two unconsummated attacks he planned with "Rizwan" in 2012. It sounds like but for him agreeing to multiple FBI interviews, the FBI would never learned of them.

According to the plea agreement, available here, see pages 16 to 23, Marquez was not involved in the San Bernardino shootings, didn't know they were going to happen and was at work when they did happen. He had no contact with Farook after the shooting attack and before the police shootout.

In 2011 and 2012 he conspired with "Rizwan" (as the government now calls him) Farook to attack their school, Riverside City College (RCC) and commuter traffic on the 91 Freeway. While he and "Rizwan" prepped for the attacks in various ways, the attacks never happened and he disassociated from "Rizwan" and the plot in 2012.

So three years later, "Rizwan" uses the rifles to kill people, and Marquez pleads guilty to providing material support to terrorists in a planned attack years earlier that he abandoned and which never occurred. [More...]

Marquez called 9/11 when he saw the news showing the shootout between Rizwan, his wife and police. He said the guns involved were his. He then turned himself in to a hospital where he was put on a psychiatric hold. After being released a few days later, he started being interviewed by the FBI. His interviews were from Dec. 6 to Dec. 15.

He did not participate in the shootings or have any advance knowledge of them according to the plea agreement. Basically, he lied to the FBI about how whether Rizwan had paid him for the guns before he bought them in 2012, and he confessed plans for attacks that were never consummated. (It sounds like the Government wouldn't have known about them but for his voluntary disclosures.)

He also said he and Rizwan had read an Inspire Magazine article about how to make bombs (back in 2011 or 2012.)

Also charged in related cases and pleading guilty to a sham marriage scheme: Rizwan's brother (Syed Raheel Farook), his wife Tatiana, and Tatiana's sister Mariya, who was married to Enrique Marquez.

Syed Raheel Farook is the older brother of San Bernadino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Syed Raheel, the elder brother, served in the U.S. Navy from 2003 to 2007, with distinction, earning medals in the "Global War on Terrorism." He is married to Tatiana (Chernykh) Farook. Tatiana has a sister named Mariya Chernykh. The sisters are from Russia and emigrated here. Mariya is married to Enrique Marquez, who was charged with providing guns to Syed Rizwan Farook and marriage fraud. The Government alleges he paid Mariya Chernykh to marry him and the marriage was a sham marriage. They never lived together.

Today's press release says:

Three people have pleaded guilty to being part of a sham marriage scheme in which a Russian woman “married” Marquez to obtain immigration benefits. Syed Raheel Farook, the brother of IRC attacker Syed Rizwan Farook; Tatiana Farook, Syed Raheel Farook’s wife; and Mariya Chernykh, Tatiana Farook’s sister, pleaded guilty earlier this year to immigration fraud charges and admitted to being part of a conspiracy in which Chernykh paid Marquez to enter into a bogus marriage.

Raheel's and Tatiana's marriage wasn't a sham, and they have a daughter. Raheel is a U.S. veteran who earned medals in the fight against terrorism. Their crime was in lying to the FBI about "witnessing the sham wedding, taking staged family pictures with the couple" and otherwise supporting the sham marriage so Tatiana's sister could stay in the U.S. One of their neighbors described them this way:

One of his neighbors, Stacy Mozer, described Raheel Farook and his wife, Tatiana, as ideal neighbors. The couple drove another neighbor to doctor's appointments last year when she had cancer surgery, treated her to meals out and fetched her prescriptions for her, even paying for them, he said. The couple frequently strolled with their 1-year-old daughter around the community of townhomes and took her to the pool.

This now wraps up the San Bernardino cases. A lot of vengeful overkill in my opinion. As the U.S. Attorney said in the press release:

We are, and will continue to be, deeply committed to pursuing the prosecution of everyone who was even remotely related to the San Bernardino attack (my emphasis).

Remote is right. Warning to the underinformed: Your right to remain silent is guaranteed for a reason. Use it or lose it. And be prepared to pay for the crimes of your relatives and former friends you had nothing to do with.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Many Russian wives here in the keys. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by fishcamp on Thu Feb 16, 2017 at 08:16:01 AM EST
    So far I've heard nothing bad from their elderly ex-fishermen husbands.  Most of them are quite beautiful, and lucky.  Hope they don't report our secret fishing locations to Putin.

    A friend worked in a local Russian-owned liquor store for several years (he invested in one of the Vodka brands the store imported).

    Anyway, according to him, the common routine was that about a month after the Russian women married the wealthy older Los Angelinos, they would then claim abuse. One of the Russians from the store would then step in as a "facilitator" and after the men paid many thousands of dollars the women would agree to divorce and no charges.

    This was but one of several "interesting" streams of income he described the Russians running from the back of the store...


    This prosecution sends very much the wrong (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Peter G on Thu Feb 16, 2017 at 11:36:25 AM EST
    message to the Muslim immigrant community.  If you come forward voluntarily with information about someone else's bad behavior, you yourself will become a target of vindictive and excessive prosecution the sole purpose of which is to generate government press releases. This is not the way to build trust and engagement with our government on the part of groups that are suspicious and wary of being treated unfairly and who hear themselves attacked collectively by the highest level government officials.

    Or it sends the message that if you choose (none / 0) (#6)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Feb 16, 2017 at 12:23:51 PM EST
    to get involved in these types of activities and/or with these types of people, you can/will be prosecuted.

    One moral of the story is: (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Green26 on Thu Feb 16, 2017 at 01:08:01 PM EST
    Don't talk to federal or state investigators or prosecutors before consulting with qualified legal counsel, if you have any conceivable involvement or connection to the person/entity/incident being asked about. Especially if you know you bought guns for the person. Also, don't fall for their tricks to get you to talk. "If you have nothing to hide, why wouldn't you talk to us." You can always consult counsel, and then talk to the investigators later, either with or without counsel, depending on what counsel says. Never assume the investigation won't find its way to you. And, never assume you can talk your way out of an issue, or make an issue go away, on your own. You almost never can, and you will almost always make the issue bigger for yourself and make it harder to get you back into a good position.

    straw purchasers (none / 0) (#2)
    by pitachips on Thu Feb 16, 2017 at 11:27:14 AM EST
    Should be very harshly dealt with. They're a huge driver of a lot of the violence we see in Chicago.  

    Is that so? (none / 0) (#13)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sun Feb 19, 2017 at 01:57:26 PM EST
    Do you have a link to any evidence?

    i googled and found this... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by linea on Sun Feb 19, 2017 at 03:50:04 PM EST
    Chicago Tribune
    According to an analysis by the U. of C. lab of data from a recent four-year period, most of the guns recovered by Chicago police that moved quickly from a legal sale to illegal use had been bought in Illinois gun shops. Such a short "time-to-crime" is a strong indicator of a straw purchase, experts say.

    Interesting (none / 0) (#15)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sun Feb 19, 2017 at 11:10:37 PM EST

    If the problem is so wide spread, one wonders about the paucity of prosecutions.

    Does "one"? (none / 0) (#16)
    by Yman on Mon Feb 20, 2017 at 07:24:55 AM EST
    Often makes it a low priority? (none / 0) (#17)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Feb 20, 2017 at 08:28:11 AM EST
    More like a low priority period. Maybe it's time for Chicago to go after the gangs if its unwilling to go after the straw purchasers.

    Yep (none / 0) (#18)
    by Yman on Mon Feb 20, 2017 at 10:11:28 AM EST
    Plus, it tends to be difficult for the Chicago PD to "go after" straw purchases when the majority of the guns come from out of state, let alone the vast majority that are purchased within the state but outside the city's jurisdiction.

    Not a low priority in federal court (none / 0) (#19)
    by Peter G on Mon Feb 20, 2017 at 01:12:34 PM EST
    at least not around here. We see prosecutions of hapless girlfriends, unemployed neighbors, and drug-starved nieces, etc., of criminals in our federal court fairly regularly.

    During the 2016 campaign I dug up a (none / 0) (#20)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Feb 25, 2017 at 03:39:40 PM EST
    a crazy story linking a small Vermont arms manufacturer to a BATF investigation of straw man purchases of large numbers of the Romanian WASR-10 semi automatic rifles that ended up in cartel armories.

    At the time the uncritically accepted story on Bernie was that he was in the pocket of the NRA, and "pro-reprehensible-PLCAA" legislation gun nut.

    I wondered about that because it made little sense.  There had to be more to the story.  Turns out there was a small Vermont arms remanufacturing company, Century International Arms, located close to the Canadian Border.  The Georgia Vermont company employed over one hundred people.  They imported European weapons and modified them for the American and other markets.

    Some of Century's products were Beltrán Leyva Cartel favorites.  Evidence at Mexican crime scenes pointed to large numbers purchased at U.S. border state gun shops.  The BATF investigated.  The straw buyers signed paperwork but never touched a dime of the purchase price.  Some never even saw their purchases.  The BATF indicted and netted little.  The story developed.

    Investigative reporting Workshop

    This first story contains links to BATF evidence, interviews, interviewer comments, the trial transcript, the kind of stuff I've never seen.

    These next three reports are linked at the same common root, but are individually interesting anyway.

    Center for Public Integrity.


    Insight Crime:

    I didn't mention this during the campaign because I kinda liked Bernie.  The attacks against him were crudely age-centric.  Whatever the policy criticism, his age was always mentioned.  It became obligatory, an implicit slur, like mentioning Clinton's femaleness.  People lapped it up.

    There were plenty of reasons not to like Sanders, but like him or hate him, he had the standard political reasons for trying to protect that small Vermont manufacturer and its skilled jobs base.


    He Could Get 25 Years (none / 0) (#5)
    by RickyJim on Thu Feb 16, 2017 at 12:23:34 PM EST
    or time served. I guess it is all up to a judge.  What would you do if you were the judge?

    In one sense it is all up to the judge (none / 0) (#8)
    by Peter G on Thu Feb 16, 2017 at 03:56:52 PM EST
    But if you are implying (or guessing) that federal sentencing is random, capricious and unpredictable, then you are not really right. There are published sentencing guidelines, developed by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which federal judges tend to follow some 80-85% of the time. So a knowledgeable person who is reasonably well-informed about the facts of the case, can predict the sentence fairly accurately, with some level of confidence. Very much unlike a news story that just tells you the statutory maximum.

    You Didn't Give Us Your Prediction (none / 0) (#9)
    by RickyJim on Thu Feb 16, 2017 at 04:56:42 PM EST
    and that seems to contradict your assertion that it is semi-algorithmic to figure out what the sentence will be.  That 25 is the maximum, was in the plea agreement.

    You did not ask me for a prediction, you asked (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Peter G on Thu Feb 16, 2017 at 08:58:11 PM EST
    what "you" would do if "you" were the judge. Was that directed to me, or to Jeralyn, or to whom? Anyway, a very different question than a prediction of what someone else will do. I don't know that judge, nor do I know the facts necessary to calculate a Guidelines range for the case (that's what I said -- IF you know the pertinent facts, THEN it is semi-algorithmic to calculate the score. But I don't know those facts. If I did, then, on average, there would be an 80-something percent chance that the calculated range will be the sentence.)
        What would I do? It's hard to imagine myself a federal judge; I'm neither establishment enough, nor punitive enough for the job. But in that counter-factual situation, I suppose I (the real me, not the imaginary judge who is somehow somewhat like me) would try to give a fair sentence for the straw-purchase behavior. I would pretty much ignore the rest, which is b/s. I don't believe in punishing people for thoughts they didn't act on, or for entirely unpredictable and undesired consequences of their acts. Or for their bad luck or bad judgment in befriending or hanging out with a neighbor, several years ago, who later turned out to be a madman.

    this is insane (none / 0) (#11)
    by linea on Thu Feb 16, 2017 at 09:42:53 PM EST
    mariya should get the exact same as anyone who used a false marriage for immigration. it shouldnt be "enhanced" because the MALE robs a bank or kills somebody or otherwise commits a crime. that makes absolutely no sense.

    Russian bride of San Bernardino terrorism conspiracy defendant admits marriage fraud

    Mariya Chernykh, a Russian immigrant whose alleged sham marriage to a Riverside man was discovered when her husband became part of the Dec. 2 San Bernardino terrorist shooting investigation, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, perjury and two counts of making false statements Thursday, Jan. 26, in federal court in Riverside. Under a plea agreement with prosecutors, Chernykh faces up to 20 years in prison and $1 million in fines. She is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 20.

    Published: Jan. 26, 2017

    examples (none / 0) (#12)
    by linea on Thu Feb 16, 2017 at 10:40:40 PM EST
    Your biggest immigration mistake: Marriage fraud

    The likely result is that you'll get caught and your immigration application will be denied.  But a denial is not your only risk.  Marriage fraud is a specific ground for deportation.   It gets worse:  under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a fraudulent marriage finding may bar the approval of a subsequent immigrant visa petition.

    Marriage Fraud Penalties

    The most severe penalties are usually applied to those who engage in conspiracy operations, such as systematically arranging fraudulent marriage. But that doesn't mean that an individual who enters into a fraudulent marriage won't also be punished.