Thursday, December 22, 2011
Orange County Pharmacist Charged with Providing Material Support to Terrorists by Sending Money to Person in Pakistan
LOS ANGELES—A Turkish citizen who resides in Orange County was indicted late this afternoon on federal charges of providing material support to terrorists for allegedly sending money to Pakistan to help fund attacks against American military personnel.
Oytun Ayse Mihalik, 39, of La Palma, California, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, was named in a four-count superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury this afternoon.
The indictment alleges three counts of providing money to an individual located in Pakistan with the knowledge that the money would be used to prepare for and carry out attacks that would kill United States military personnel and other persons overseas. Mihalik allegedly sent a total of $2,050 in three wire transfers to the person in Pakistan over the course of three weeks at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011.
The fourth count of the indictment charges Mihalik with making false statements to special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s HomelandSecurity Investigations. Mihalik allegedly lied to the agents during an interview at Los Angeles International Airport on August 8, 2011, after she arrived in Los Angeles following a six-month trip to Turkey. Mihalik is accused of making false statements in a matter involving international terrorism by falsely telling the agents that she had never used an alias when using Western Union to send money to a person who was overseas and that she had sent money only once via Western Union to a person who was overseas.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The charge of providing material support to terrorists carries a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison. The charge of making false statements in a matter involving international terrorism carries a statutory maximum sentence of eight years in federal prison.
Mihalik has been in federal custody since she was arrested on August 27 while preparing to board a flight to her native Turkey with a one-way ticket, according to court documents. She was initially indicted in this case on August 30 and charged with making false statements. Mihalik subsequently pleaded not guilty to the single count of making false statements alleged in the August 30 indictment.
The superseding indictment filed today adds the three counts of providing material support to terrorists. The charge of making false statements that was alleged in the initial indictment is now count four in the superseding indictment.
A trial in this case was previously scheduled for February 14 before United States District Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen.
Mihalik will be arraigned on the superseding indictment, but a date for that hearing has not yet been scheduled.
The case against Mihalik was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. The JTTF includes special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, as well as investigators with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The Orange County Regional Computer Forensics Lab provided valuable assistance.