A confidant of the man who joined his wife in carrying out the 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino is due in federal court Friday in downtown Riverside, where prosecutors and attorneys will confer on the defendant’s status and the ideal date for his sentencing this year.
Enrique Marquez Jr., 27, pleaded guilty two years ago to one count each of providing material support to terrorists and making false statements in the acquisition of firearms. In exchange for his admissions, the U.S. Attorney’s Office dropped related charges of marriage fraud, immigration visa fraud and lying on a federal document.
Marquez, who is being held without bail at a federal detention center in San Bernardino, was slated for sentencing on multiple dates in 2017 and 2018. However, after changing attorneys, his sentencing was tabled last summer for an indeterminate period.
The hearing Friday morning before U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal will likely focus on when the case can finally be closed.
“This defendant collaborated with and purchased weapons for a man who carried out the devastating December 2, 2015, terrorist attack that took the lives of 14 innocent people, wounded nearly two dozen and impacted our entire nation,” then-U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker said in February 2017. “While his earlier plans to attack a school and a freeway were not executed, the planning clearly laid the foundation for the 2015 attack on the Inland Regional Center.”
According to prosecutors, Marquez was a close associate of 28-year-old Sayeed Rizwan Farook, who teamed with his wife, 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik, to perpetrate the rampage at the IRC during an employee Christmas party. The pair had pledged loyalty to ISIS. Both died a few hours later in a gun battle with police.
Marquez stated on a federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives form that he was the actual buyer of the two high-capacity semiautomatic rifles with which Farook and Malik armed themselves.
The defendant had moved to Riverside and met Farook, his next-door neighbor, in 2005. Under the future jihadi terrorist’s sway, Marquez converted to Islam, after which he adopted a radical philosophy, and by late 2011, the two were preparing to commit terrorist attacks, according to court papers.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Marquez admitted making plans with Farook to commit mass murder at the library or cafeteria of Riverside City College. The men also schemed to go on a killing spree along the eastbound Riverside (91) Freeway during afternoon rush-hour, identifying a particular section of roadway that had no exits, according to the FBI.
The defendant backed out of the terrorist plots in November 2012, after the arrests of four Inland Empire men who were gearing up to join the Taliban in Afghanistan. All four were eventually convicted and sentenced to between 10 and 25 years in prison.
Marquez also engaged in a sham marriage with a Russian immigrant, who is the sister-in-law of 33-year-old Syed Farook, the terrorist’s elder sibling.
Mariya Chernykh, 28, and Marquez went all-out to make their fake nuptials appear legitimate, taking staged family photos, creating a joint checking account and a back-dated lease that implied they shared a marital residence, enabling her to remain in the country and collect benefits, according to court papers.
Marquez and Chernykh signed immigration documents, under penalty of perjury, falsely stating that they both lived at the same Riverside address, prosecutors said. However, Chernykh eventually moved in with another man in Ontario, while Marquez received money from her as part of the arrangement.
Chernykh ultimately admitted charges of conspiracy, perjury and making false statements to federal officials. She’s free on bond and is slated to be sentenced on May 20.
In a separate plea agreement, Syed Farook admitted a conspiracy charge. He’s also free on bond and is slated to be sentenced on March 25. His wife, 34-year-old Tatiana Farook, Chernykh’s sister, admitted a conspiracy count as well and will be sentenced on April 15.
Farook and his wife are each facing five years behind bars. Chernykh is facing up to 20 years. However, none are expected to receive the maximum sentences.