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12/21/2011

Orange County pharmacist charged with providing material support to terrorists

A Turkish citizen who resides in Orange County, Calif., was indicted Wednesday for providing material support to terrorists by sending money to Pakistan to help fund attacks against American military personnel.

Oytun Ayse Mihalik, 39, of La Palma, Calif., a lawful permanent resident of the United States, was named in a four-count superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury.

The indictment alleges three counts of providing money to an individual in Pakistan, knowing that the money would be used to prepare for and carry out attacks that would kill U.S. 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 with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Mihalik allegedly lied to the agents during an interview at Los Angeles International Airport on Aug. 8, when she arrived following a six-month trip to Turkey. Mihalik is accused of making false statements in a matter involving international terrorism when she told agents she had never used an alias when using Western Union to send money to a person overseas and that she had sent money only once via Western Union to a person overseas.

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 her arrest Aug. 27 as she prepared to board a flight to her native Turkey with a one-way ticket, according to court documents. She was initially indicted in this case Aug. 30 and charged with making false statements to which she subsequently pleaded not guilty.

The superseding indictment filed Wednesday 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 Feb.14 before U.S. 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 Joint Terrorism Task Force. The JTTF includes special agents with the FBI and ICE HSI, as well as investigators from the Orange County Sheriff's Department. The Orange County Regional Computer Forensics Lab provided valuable assistance.