He’s also under investigation for breaching House IT systems and stealing equipment.
Authorities arrested Imran Awan, the IT aide of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) under an FBI investigation, at Dulles Airport after he wired almost $300,000 to Pakistan.
The police arrested Awan on bank fraud charges and cannot leave the country.
A source recently told The Daily Caller “that the FBI has joined what Politico previously described as a Capitol Police criminal probe into ‘serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network’” by Awan, his wife Hina Alvi, and his brothers Abid and Jamal.
Awan pled not guilty on Tuesday to one count of bank fraud during his arraignment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Awan is accused of attempting to defraud the Congressional Federal Credit Union by obtaining a $165,000 home equity loan for a rental property, which is against the credit union’s policies since it is not the owner’s primary residence. Those funds were then included as part of a wire transfer to two individuals in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
A Department of Justice spokesman explained that authorities released Awan on a “high-intensity supervision program.” This means Awan “must wear a GPS monitor, abide by a curfew of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and cannot leave a 50-mile radius of his Lorton, Va., home.” The program forced Awan to surrender his passport.
His preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 21.
The FBI Investigation
In February, reports surfaced that four House employees face an investigation for breaching House IT systems and stealing equipment.Media named Hina, Abid, Imran, and Jamal in reports the following days. Lawmakers fired the four when the suspicions arose and barred the brothers “from computer networks at the House of Representatives.”
The House members included three congressmen on the intelligence panel and three on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The officials suspect the four of “accessing members’ computer networks without their knowledge and stealing equipment from Congress.”
The Representatives affected include Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), and then-Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY).
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducted a search of Alvi’s bags immediately prior to her boarding the plane and located a total of $12,400.00 in U.S. cash inside. Alvi was permitted to board the flight to Qatar and she and her daughters have not returned to the United States,” the affidavit says. “Alvi had numerous pieces of luggage with her, including cardboard boxes… Your affiant does not believe that Alvi has any intention to return to the United States.”
Smashed Hard Drives
On Sunday night, the FBI seized a bunch of smashed hard drives from the home of Awan. A Marine corps veteran and his Navy Officer wife now occupy the home and he discovered “wireless routers, hard drives that look like they tried to destroy, laptops, [and] a lot of brand new expensive toner.” The Daily Caller continued:
The tenants called the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and, not long after, FBI agents arrived together with the Capitol Police to interview them and confiscate the equipment. The Marine spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns for his wife’s naval career, saying she doesn’t want to be associated with a national security incident.
“It was in the garage. They recycled cabinets and lined them along the walls. They left in a huge hurry,” the Marine said. “It looks like government-issued equipment. We turned that stuff over.”
Then Imran found out and became angry when he couldn’t get back his equipment:
The Marine said Imran wanted the hard drives back so desperately that he threatened to sue the renter for stealing them.
“It was unbelievable. I don’t know where they get off thinking they’re going to sue us for items we have no obligation to hold onto,” he said.
Imran came to the house for the items “three to four times,” but the Marine wouldn’t let him enter.
“Their lawyer contacted us today via email and said we owed $350 in late charges and the items he left in the house,” the Marine said.
Wasserman Schultz finally fired Awan on Tuesday, according to The Hill:
A spokesperson for Wasserman Schultz said that Awan had been fired on Tuesday.
“Mr. Awan previously served as an employee in our office, but his services have been terminated,” Wasserman Schultz’ spokesman David Damron said in a statement.
Since the investigation started, Wasserman Schultz had done all she could to protect Awan. She even changed his title from technology administrator to advisor. The amount of protection caused confusion among other staffers in Congress:
That baffled a Democratic IT staffer, who said “I can’t imagine why she’d be that good of friends with a technology provider.”
“Usually if someone does bad stuff, an office is going to distance themselves” rather than incur political fallout for a mere staffer, he added.
“My understanding is the the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate Members’ equipment when the Member is not under investigation,” Wasserman Schultz said in the annual police budget hearing of the House Committee On Appropriations’ Legislative Branch Subcommittee.
“We can’t return the equipment,” Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa told the Florida Democrat.
“I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way and you should expect that there will be consequences,” Wasserman Schultz said.
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