Convinced that the defendant would not repeat his previous actions, a judge Monday decided against revoking bail and ordering jail for a federally convicted man whose brother and sister-in-law were Islamic State-inspired terrorists responsible for killing more than a dozen people in San Bernardino.
“You must comply with every aspect of your release,” U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal told 32-year-old Syed Raheel Farook. “I understand there have been some stressors in your life, and you are paying the debts of others, so to speak. But you must comply with the terms of your release.”
Farook pleaded guilty in January 2017 to conspiracy to commit immigration fraud in connection with a sham marriage involving his wife’s sister.
Since his arrest more than two years ago, Farook has been free on bond. However, agents from U.S. Pretrial Services filed a request on April 12, asking Bernal to revoke the defendant’s bond because he violated one of the terms of his restricted release — specifically, taking an overdose of “psychotropic” pills in an apparent suicide attempt on March 28, according to court records.
Farook was hospitalized and underwent a psychiatric evaluation before he was released from care on April 2, according to the government.
“I had three employers last year who rescinded (job) offers (because of publicity related to the case),” Farook told the judge. “I was upfront with my last employer, and after eight months working, when they found about my court stuff, they terminated my position.”
Farook and his attorney said it was too much for him emotionally, and he misused his medication.
“He was despondent and reacted inappropriately,” defense attorney Ron Cordova told the court.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Sartoris did not argue for bond revocation, and after Bernal received assurances from Farook that he would continue to seek counseling and start training as a commercial truck driver in less than a month, the judge decided against placing him in a federal lockup pending his Sept. 24 sentencing hearing.
The Corona man is facing a potential five-year prison sentence, though he could receive probation.
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, 32, and her sister, Mariya Chernykh, 27, 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 Rizwan Farook.
Marquez last year admitted one count each of providing material support to terrorists and making false statements in the acquisition of firearms for supplying Sayeed Farook and Malik with the semiautomatic rifles that they used to perpetrate the IRC killing spree. He’s slated to be sentenced on July 13.
According to federal authorities, the Farooks engaged in the 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 living with another man in Ontario.
Chernykh, who is also free on bond, last year pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, perjury and making false statements to federal officials. She’s set to be sentenced on Nov. 5. Tatiana Farook, who’s free on bond, as well, last year admitted a conspiracy count and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 22.
She was present during the revocation hearing.
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