The older brother of an Islamic terrorist who teamed with his wife to murder more than a dozen people at a Christmas party at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino is slated to be sentenced Monday for his part in arranging a fraudulent marriage.
Syed Raheel Farook, 34, pleaded guilty in January 2017 to conspiracy to commit immigration fraud in connection with a sham marriage involving his wife’s sister.
The U.S. Probation & Parole Office is recommending a sentence of five months in federal prison and two years of supervised release. Farook’s attorneys are requesting that U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal waive prison time.
“He is truly embarrassed by his participation in the marriage fraud scheme,” according to a defense brief. “He is ashamed of the criminal conduct that will forever tarnish him.”
The brief points to Farook’s six-year service in the U.S. Navy, work as a tax specialist with the California Board of Equalization and procurement of an advanced degree in business as indicators of his positive contributions to society.
The defense also says that he was a victim of sexual abuse while his family resided in Pakistan in his formative years, causing mental health issues, and that he suffers from depression, for which he is receiving treatment from a psychiatrist, potential mitigating factors.
The father of one has been free on bond since he was initially taken into custody in the spring of 2016.
His brother, 28-year-old Sayeed Rizwan Farook, carried out the Dec. 2, 2015, terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center with his wife, 27-year- old Tashfeen Malik, killing 14 and injuring 22. The two jihadis were killed a few hours later during a gun battle with police.
In the ensuing investigation, FBI agents uncovered a marriage fraud scheme that culminated in indictments in April 2016 against Syed Farook, his wife, Tatiana Farook, 35, and her sister, Mariya Chernykh, 30, of Ontario.
The threesome conspired to obtain immigration benefits for Chernykh, a Russian citizen who entered into a bogus marriage with Enrique Marquez Jr. of Riverside, a confidant of Sayeed Farook.
Marquez, 28, was sentenced last month to 20 years in federal prison based on a plea agreement in which he admitted one count each of providing material support to terrorists and making false statements in the acquisition of firearms, which consisted of the semiautomatic rifles that Sayeed Farook and Malik used to perpetrate the IRC killing spree.
According to federal authorities, the Farooks engaged in the marriage fraud conspiracy by standing as witnesses at Marquez and Chernykh’s wedding, taking staged 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 marital residence. Marquez and Chernykh signed immigration documents, under penalty of perjury, falsely stating that they both lived at the same address. Investigators said Marquez received money from Chernykh as part of the arrangement, while she was living with another man in Ontario.
Chernykh, who is also free on bond, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, perjury and making false statements to federal officials. She’s set to be sentenced on March 29. Tatiana Farook, still living with her husband, admitted a conspiracy count and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 14.
In March, Farook’s mother, 66-year-old Rafia Sultana Shareef, also known as Rafia Farook, admitted a federal charge of destruction of records central to a criminal investigation. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, she was living with her younger son and Malik, caring for their toddler daughter in Redlands when the massacre took place.
After hearing of the killing, she proceeded to shred a map that had been printed by her son, prosecutors said. Her sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 4.
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