Gun buyer in San Bernardino attack pleads not guilty
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — The man who bought the rifles used in the San Bernardino attack pleaded not guilty Wednesday to conspiring with one of the killers and providing material support to terrorists.
Enrique Marquez Jr., 24, appeared in federal court in Riverside with his hands and feet shackled. He answered “not guilty” when asked to enter his plea to the five-count indictment.
A jury trial was scheduled for Feb. 23. Marquez could be sent to prison for as long as 50 years if he’s convicted. His lawyer, Young J. Kim, declined to comment after the arraignment.
According to the FBI, during 10 days of interviews Marquez revealed plots he and his friend, Syed Rizwan Farook, discussed but never carried out to slaughter students at a community college and murder motorists on a congested freeway.
The Dec. 30 indictment superseded charges he originally faced when arrested two weeks after the Dec. 2 shootings carried out by Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, at a building where Farook’s colleagues from the San Bernardino county health department were meeting.
The couple killed 14 people and wounded 22 others before being killed hours later in a dramatic shootout with police.
Authorities said Marquez was not involved in the killings, but that his failure to warn authorities about Farook and his purchase of the guns had deadly consequences.
Marquez and Farook were friends who grew up next door to each other in Riverside. Farook, 28, introduced Marquez to Islam as a teenager a decade ago and indoctrinated him in violent extremism, according to the FBI.
Marquez bought two rifles for Farook in 2011 and 2012 and the two planned to launch bomb and shooting attacks at Riverside City College, where they attended classes, and a notoriously gridlocked section of highway without exits.
Marquez faces two firearms violations for being the so-called straw buyer who purchased the guns in his name because Farook, who was born in the U.S. to Pakistani immigrants, “looked Middle Eastern,” authorities said.
He also faces charges of marriage fraud and lying on immigration paperwork for wedding to Russian woman whose sister is married to Farook’s brother.
The FBI said Marquez admitted he was paid $200 a month to marry the woman and he lied on immigration papers that he lived with her so she could stay in the U.S.
A lawyer for Marquez previously argued unsuccessfully that his client should be released on bond because he had willingly spoken with the FBI while he was not in custody and never fled. Kim, a public defender, has since filed paperwork in court to prevent investigators from speaking with Marquez without his lawyer present.
Associated Press writer Brian Melley contributed to this report in Los Angeles.
This story has been corrected to clarify that the FBI said Marquez said he was paid $200 a month for his marriage.