Three people linked to San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook — including his brother — have been arrested on charges involving an alleged “sham marriage,” according to the Justice Department.
Syed Raheel Farook, 31, was taken into custody Thursday morning by the FBI along with his 31-year-old wife, Tatiana Farook, and her 26-year-old sister Mariya Chernykh. They face charges of marriage fraud conspiracy and making false statements under oath.
The case centers on what prosecutors say was a sham marriage between Chernykh and Enrique Marquez Jr. — who has been charged with, among other things, providing two guns used in the Dec. 2, 2015, attack — “so she could obtain immigration benefits that were not available to her because she is a Russian citizen and did not have legal status in the United States,” according to a Justice Department statement.
Tatiana Farook and Syed Raheel Farook allegedly “participated in the conspiracy by, among other things, witnessing Marquez and Chernykh’s wedding, taking staged family pictures of Marquez and Chernykh, establishing a joint checking account for Marquez and Chernykh, and creating a back-dated lease for Marquez and Chernykh to create the illusion that they shared a marital residence with Syed Raheel Farook and Tatiana Farook,” according to the statement.
Marquez has already been charged “with entering into a sham marriage” as part of his indictment in 2015.
The case is a result of the investigation into the mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino in which Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people.
Chernykh allegedly falsely told the FBI that “she lived with Marques at Syed Raheel Farook and Tatiana Farook’s residence in Corona [Calif.]” during the investigation.
U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker adds:
“The charges also reflect the importance we place on statements made to law enforcement officials during a terrorism investigation. Those who lie to or conceal material information from law enforcement officers investigating terrorist acts will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”