Russian-born Mariya Chernykh was sentenced to three years of probation and no jail time on Monday, May 17, for her role in a sham marriage intended to gain her permanent U.S. residency – a scheme discovered during the investigation into the 2015 San Bernardino massacre that left 14 dead.
Chernykh appeared in U.S. District Court in Riverside, where in January 2017 she pleaded guilty to conspiracy, perjury and two counts of making false statements.
The status of Chernykh’s immigration case was unclear Monday; Debbie Cannon, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said her agency does not comment on individual cases.
Chernykh’s sister, Tatiana Farook, is the sister-in-law of one of the San Bernardino shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook.
Chernykh was not accused of any crime directly related to the Dec. 2, 2015, assault that also wounded 22.
In July 2009, Chernykh and her sister – then Tatiana Gigliotti – came to the U.S. on three-month visas and never left.
In 2013, Gigliotti married Syed Raheel Farook, brother of Syed Rizwan Farook, who carried out the San Bernardino attack alongside his wife, Tashfeen Malik, at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. The radicalized Muslims, residents of Redlands, were killed in a gunfight with police a few hours later.
In 2014, Chernykh married Enrique Marquez Jr., a Farook neighbor who supplied the weapons used in the attack.
But the marriage was a sham; Marquez was paid $200 a month to go along with it.
On Dec. 1, 2015, two days before Chernykh and Marquez had a meeting with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, they created a backdated lease to pretend they lived at the Corona house of Tatiana and Raheel Farook, court documents say.
In reality, Chernykh lived in Ontario with her boyfriend, who is the father of her child, while Marquez lived with his parents in Riverside.
The marriage allowed Chernykh to apply for permanent residence.
The phony couple took other steps to make their marriage appear to be one borne out of love and not convenience.
Chernykh and Tatiana Farook purchased a $50 wedding ring for Marquez, Raheel and Tatiana Farook signed the marriage license as witnesses, wedding photos were taken, and the newlyweds opened a joint banking account, according to the indictment.
Source: Orange County Register