Enrique Marquez Jr. planned attacks — which were never carried out — at Riverside City College and 91 Freeway, officials said.
A confidant of San Bernardino mass-shooter Syed Rizwan Farook has agreed to plead guilty to providing material support to terrorists and conspiring with him to plan never-realized attacks at Riverside City College and on the Riverside (91) Freeway, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Enrique Marquez Jr., 25, will also plead guilty to making false statements regarding his role in the purchase of two assault rifles that were used in the Dec. 2, 2015, shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that left 14 people dead and two dozen others injured.
Farook, 28, and his wife, 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik, were killed in a gun battle with law enforcement hours after carrying out the shooting.
Marquez is scheduled to formally plead guilty Thursday before U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal at the federal courthouse in downtown Riverside.
The defendant, who is being held without bail at the federal detention center in San Bernardino, could face up to 25 years in federal prison.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker said. “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.
When this defendant pleads guilty, all four individuals charged, including three of the shooters’ family members, will be convicted,” she added. “Everyone … across the Department of Justice and the broader law enforcement community brought their expertise, dedication and tireless effort to bear on this investigation. We are, and will continue to be, deeply committed to pursuing the prosecution of everyone who was even remotely related to the San Bernardino attack.”
According to prosecutors, Marquez was a close associate of Farook, who teamed with his wife to carry out the Islamist-motivated rampage at the IRC during a Christmas party attended by San Bernardino County employees.
Marquez stated on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives form that he was the actual buyer of the two high-capacity semi-automatic rifles with which Farook and Malik armed themselves.
“Defendant Marquez purchased two of the weapons used in the terror attack … a horrific act which led to great suffering and a lifetime of pain for the survivors and for the loved ones of those murdered,” said Deirdre Fike, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Defendant Marquez provided these weapons to his associate, Farook, with whom he conspired to plot chilling terror attacks.”
Marquez moved to Riverside and met Farook, his next-door neighbor, in 2005. Under Farook’s sway, Marquez converted to Islam in 2007, after which he adopted a radical philosophy, and by late 2011, the pair were preparing to perpetrate terrorist attacks, prosecutors allege.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Marquez admitted making plans with Farook to commit mass murder at the library or cafeteria of Riverside City College.
The pair also schemed to go on a killing spree on 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 apparently backed out of the terrorist plots after the arrests in 2012 of four Inland Empire men who were gearing up to join the Taliban in Afghanistan. All four were convicted and sentenced to between 10 and 25 years in federal prison.
Marquez also engaged in a sham marriage with a Russian immigrant who is the sister-in-law of 31-year-old Syed Raheel Farook, the terrorist’s elder sibling.
Mariya Chernykh, 26, 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, according to court documents.
Marriage and immigrant fraud charges against Marquez will apparently be dismissed under the plea deal.
Last month, Chernykh admitted charges of conspiracy, perjury and making false statements to federal officials. She’s slated to be sentenced on Nov. 20.
In a separate plea agreement, Syed Farook admitted a conspiracy charge. He’s slated to be sentenced on Nov. 13, the same day as his wife, 32-year-old Tatiana Farook, Chernykh’s sister, who last week admitted a conspiracy count.
All three are free on bond. Farook and his wife are each facing five years behind bars; Chernykh is facing up to 20 years.