Imran Awan, a longtime IT aide to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and as many as 25 other House Democrats, was arrested at Dulles Airport on Monday night, July 24 while trying to leave the country, Fox News reported. He was charged with multiple counts of bank fraud, according to Fox News.
Awan has a hearing scheduled for August 21. He’s wearing a GPS monitor and can’t go more than 50 miles from his home, according to Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.
Here’s what you need to know. This is a developing story.
1. Imran Awan Was Arrested While Trying to Leave the Country and His Wife Is Already in Pakistan With Their Daughters, According to Court Documents
Awan, 37, was at Dulles International Airport trying to leave the country when he was arraigned and surrendered his passport, Chad Pergram of Fox News reported. Awan was charged with bank fraud, according to Fox. The U.S. Capitol Police, FBI, and Customs and Border Protection were all involved in the arrest. According to the complain, he had bought a ticket to fly to Doha, Qatar and then Lahore, Pakistan, and had a return flight booked for January.
Awan pleaded not guilty to one count of bank fraud on Tuesday, and he was ordered to turn over his passports. A hearing is scheduled for August 21 at 1:45 p.m., and the government did not oppose his release with special conditions. The case was assigned to Magistrate Deborah A. Robinson. You can read the criminal complaint below:
And read the related affidavit below, which was unsealed in PACER:
The affidavit alleges that Awan “knowingly” engaged in a scheme to “defraud the Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union to obtain money owned by … CFCU.” The affidavit above was submitted only to establish probable cause.
The affidavit alleges that a home equity line of credit was obtained to defraud CFCU based on two misrepresentations: 1.) that Awan’s and his wife Hina Alvi’s property was a primary residence, not a rental, and 2.) that Alvi intended to use the property as a permanent residence even though she was already renting property somehwere else. The loan was in the amount of $165,000 and was wired to Pakistan.
According to the affidavit, Alvi has already left the country with their three daughters and is in Pakistan.
The affidavit states that on January 18, a CFCU representative called and asked to speak to Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi. A male answered and pretended to be Alvi and said the purpose of the requested wire transfer was funeral arrangements. When told this wasn’t an acceptable reason for a wire, the person said it was to buy property. “The representative accepted that reason and initiated the wire transfer to Pakistan. Bank records show that $165,000.00 of $283,000.00 wired to Pakistan was from” a home equity line of credit. On March 5, the affidavit states, agents approached Alvi at Dulles when she was about to leave for Pakistan with their three children, who had been abruptly taken out of school. The affidavit goes on to state:
ALVI was permitted to board the flight to Qatar and she and her daughters have not returned to the United States. ALVI has a return flight booked for September 2017. Based on your Affiant’s observations at Dulles Airport, and upon his experience and training, your Affiant does not believe that ALVI has any intention to return to the United States.”
Awan then purchased a flight from Dulles to Qatar to Pakistan, leaving on July 24. He purchased a return flight for January 2018.
The Daily Caller reported that the FBI had seized smashed hard drives from Awan’s home. This has not been confirmed, however, by any other media sources at this time and the information came from an unnamed, anonymous source. We will update this story with more information if it is available.
2. Officials Were Investigating Awan and Several Relatives for an Alleged ‘Procurement Scam’
Awan, his wife Hina Alvi, along with several other related IT staffers had been under investigation since February, Politico reported. Officials accused them of stealing equipment from House members’ offices, along with committing other possible violations. Details about the investigation were vague at first. Politico described the investigation in this way: “The employees allegedly stole equipment from members’ offices without their knowledge and committed serious, potentially illegal, violations of House IT policies.”
In March, Fox News went into a little more detail, saying that at least five contractors, including Awan and his brothers Jamal and Abid Awan, were being investigated for possibly removing equipment from offices, including computers and servers. Fox News reported in March that the allegations included running a procurement scheme that involved buying equipment, then double-billing the House administrative office, and possibly having unauthorized access to the House computer system. Items that may have been double-billed included computers, iPads, monitors, keyboards, and routers.
Some have questioned whether the allegations might have led to the DNC hacks, but sources originally told Fox that there is no evidence that this was connected to the hacks that happened during the campaign. Fox more recently reported that authorities are looking into whether the IT workers put any sensitive House information on the cloud, possibly allowing it “to be exposed to outside sources.”
3. Wasserman Schultz Kept Awan on as an Advisor Even After Others Let Him Go
According to Politico, Awan worked in an advisory role for Wasserman Schultz, giving advice on technology issues. Awan came to Capitol Hill and began working for Rep. Robert Wexler in 2004. He began working for Wasserman Schultz also in 2005, and over the years worked for at least 25 House Democrats.
But even when other staffers let him go and he was blocked from having access to the House servers, Wasserman Schultz kept him on the payroll. Back in March, Hina Alvi — Awan’s wife — was let go as IT support staff for Rep. Gregory Meeks, Politico reported. Awan had been working for Rep. Marcia Fudge, and he was let go from that position too. Meanwhile, Wasserman-Shultz kept him on as a technology adviser, even though he had been blocked from accessing the House computer system since February.
She let him go once he was arrested, Chad Pergram for Fox News reported.
Attorneys for Wasserman Schultz have been negotiating with Capitol Police who want access to a laptop of hers associated with the case, Fox reported. She had “resisted” those efforts, possibly discussing consequences if the computer wasn’t quickly returned.
4. Rep. Meeks Was Concerned that Accusations Were Too Easy to Make Since the Staffers Are Muslim Americans
Meeks clarified in March that Awan’s wife Alvi was let go not because he suspected she was actually involved in a crime, but because the investigation was interrupting his office’s daily work.
Meeks told Politico that he wasn’t sure that he believed the accusations, because he was afraid the staffers’ Muslim American background and ties to Pakistan made them targets:
I wanted to be sure individuals are not being singled out because of their nationalities or their religion. We want to make sure everybody is entitled to due process.”
5. From 2004 to Early 2017, Awan Made Nearly $2 Million Working for House Democrats
According to Politico, Awan earned nearly $2 million since 2004 as an IT support staffer for House Democrats. Alvi began working for House Democrats in 2007 and earned more than $1.3 million since then. Their salaries were split among multiple lawmakers’ offices. None of the staffers under investigation had access to classified information, Politico reported.
Despite a six figure salary, Awan declared bankruptcy in 2012 with more than $1.1 million in debt, Fox News reported.
In a strange but likely unrelated development, police in January visited the home of a woman they identified as Awan’s stepmother, who accused him and his family of keeping her away from her dying husband. She filed a complaint alleging insurance fraud, Fox News reported. It’s unclear if the complaint has yet been resolved.