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Friend Of San Bernardino Shooters Faces Criminal Charges

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And this morning, we're learning about new charges stemming from the San Bernadino shooting this month. Investigators say Enrique Marquez Jr. was a friend of the shooters and that he has admitted to buying weapons that were used in that assault on a holiday party. Now federal authorities have charged him with conspiring to commit crimes of terrorism. From member station KVCR in San Bernardino, Matt Guilhem reports.

MATT GUILHEM, BYLINE: At a press conference just days after the shooting, John D'Angelo, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said investigators were aware of Marquez.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

JOHN D'ANGELO: Enrique Marquez purchased the two assault rifles that you see - the DPMS and Smith & Wesson 5.56 rifles. We have the paperwork documenting those purchases as well.

GUILHEM: Following the December 2 attack on San Bernardino, Marquez remained out of sight. An affidavit reveals that he was questioned by the FBI for 10 days. Now in federal custody, Marquez faces three criminal charges. To begin, he's facing a count of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. The accusation stems from a prior plot concocted by Marquez and Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino shooters. In 2011, the longtime friends devised a plan to attack Riverside City College, as well as a stretch of freeway. The second charge against Marquez is making a false statement in connection with the acquisition of firearms. In the affidavit, Marquez says he purchased the two rifles used in the San Bernardino shooting for Farook. The guns were bought in 2011 and 12 for the attack they planned but never carried out. Finally, questions around Marquez's marriage have resulted in a charge of fraud and misuse of visas. He was paid $200 a month to marry a Russian woman. Laurie Levenson is a former federal prosecutor and professor at Loyola Law School in southern California. She hones in on the dilemma facing Marquez.

LAURIE LEVENSON: The lawyers will try to put together a defense, but you never want to start from a place of weakness. When your client has been interviewed by the FBI over and over again without a lawyer present, that's not going to be an easy starting point for his counsel.

GUILHEM: During that questioning, Marquez repeatedly waived his right to counsel, but he has a public defender now. For NPR News, I'm Matt Guilhem in San Bernardino.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And you heard Matt's reporting here on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.