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Woman who perpetrated immigration fraud with help of terrorist’s pal sentenced

A Russian immigrant who entered into a fake marriage with the confidant of an Islamic terrorist who murdered more than a dozen people in San Bernardino was sentenced today in Riverside to three years federal probation.

Mariya Chernykh, 30, of Ontario pleaded guilty in 2017 to conspiracy, perjury and making false statements to U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials. U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal imposed probation without prison time, in keeping with all of his prior sentences in connection with the case.

Chernykh was the final defendant to be sentenced in the case, which stemmed from an FBI investigation into the Dec. 2, 2015, massacre at the Inland Regional Center. Chernykh arranged a bogus marriage contract between herself and terrorist Sayeed Rizwan Farook's onetime sidekick, now-29-year-old Enrique Marquez Jr. of Riverside.

Marquez was sentenced last October to 20 years in federal prison for helping acquire the semiautomatic rifles that Farook and his wife, 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik, used to perpetrate the IRC attack, which killed 14 and wounded
22.

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Chernykh's older sister, 35-year-old Tatiana Farook, is married to the terrorist's older brother, 34-year-old Syed Raheel Farook of Corona. Chernykh was seeking ways to remain in the U.S. when the family facilitated the fraudulent nuptials between her and Marquez, who was paid for his part in the immigration scam.

According to federal investigators, Marquez and Chernykh signed immigration documents, under penalty of perjury, falsely stating that they both lived at the same address in Riverside. Chernykh was already living with
another man at the time.

Syed and Tatiana Farook engaged in the conspiracy by standing as witnesses at Marquez and Chernykh's staged wedding, taking family photos of the couple and creating a joint checking account for them, as well as a back-dated lease that implied they shared a residence.

Last fall, Syed and Tatiana Farook were each sentenced to 36 months federal probation for their parts in the conspiracy.

Rafia Sultana Shareef, 67, also known as Rafia Farook, the mother of Syed and Sayeed Farook, pleaded guilty last year to "destruction and mutilation of records" central to a federal criminal investigation.

Bernal sentenced her to six months home confinement and three years probation.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Shareef was staying with her younger son and his wife in Redlands, caring for their toddler daughter, when the pair went to the IRC Christmas party and perpetrated the rampage, which targeted Farook's co-workers in the San Bernardino County Department of Environmental Health. Farook and Malik were confirmed fundamentalists and sympathized with Islamic State. Prosecutors said Shareef heard about the terrorist attack and realized that her son was involved, prompting her to snatch a diagram that outlined the terrorists' "attack plan'' and shred it.

Farook and his wife were killed in a gunfight with a SWAT unit within two hours of the IRC attack.

City News Service

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