Who is Imran Awan, Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Shady Former IT Guy?
This is more serious than it appears, it is not just a simple criminal case of bank fraud, but something that rises to the level of endangering national security.
On July 24, a Pakistan-born IT vendor to several top House Democrats was arrested as he tried to leave the country. Imran Awan, 37, who served as a staffer to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), was taken into custody as he tried to fly out of D.C. to Pakistan. He was under investigation for embezzlement and fraud related to a bank house loan. He had already wired $300,000 to Pakistan. He was frantically liquidating close to $2 million in real estate properties. Wasserman Schultz fired him after the arrest.
At first glance, this appears to be about bank fraud. But as Andrew McCarthy observes in National Review, it’s clearly a lot more serious, involving a potential risk to national security.
An Ongoing, Larger Investigation
A tenant who moved into Awan’s home after he recently moved out found the destroyed government hard drives.
FBI agents also seized smashed government computer hard drives from Awan’s home. It was part of a larger probe by the Capitol Police into “serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network.” This was not just by Imran, but included three of his relatives and a friend who worked for the House.
Authorities are also looking into Awan’s younger brothers, Abid and Jamal, his wife, Hina Alvi, and Rao Abbas, his best friend. They were all on the House Democratic payroll, and have collectively received $4 million since 2009 — far higher than other staffers. Awan made four times the amount of an average staffer. Congress hired his brother Jamal,age 20, in 2014 at $160,000 annually. The Daily Caller questions whether they all actually showed up to work.
During their time supposedly working on the Hill, one in the group was running a car dealership. Another worked at McDonald’s until he was fired, at which point he sat home all day, his housemate told The DCNF. A third of the IT troop was a 20-year old college student, and multiple members of the group spent months at a time in Pakistan.
The crew had access to emails and files of at least two dozen House Democrats who they worked for. They reportedly stole information from their member offices and transferred it to private servers. They apparently did not have security clearances. It is unclear how they would have been able to pass background checks due to their financial woes, which include huge debts and bankruptcy. Some congressional IT aides think they were blackmailing representatives with their personal information. The probe looked into double billing for computer and other equipment.
A tenant who moved into Awan’s home after he recently moved out found the destroyed hard drives. When he observed they were government equipment, he notified authorities. Imran tried to get the tenant to return the hard drives to him, even threatening him with a lawsuit, but the tenant — a military man — refused.
Abid Awan ran a car dealership — while he worked full time at the House. He allegedly used it to steal money and merchandise. He committed a DUI a month before his employment at the House, and shortly after faced arrest for public drunkenness while working there. There are lawsuits accusing both brothers of life insurance fraud.
Congressional authorities fired all of the crew except Imran Awan in February after representatives were notified by Capitol security that they were the subjects of a criminal probe. Although authorities banned Imran from the House network on suspicion of data breaches and theft at that time, Wasserman Schultz continued to employ him until last week.
In May, Wasserman Schultz was filmed threatening the Capitol Hill police chief. She was demanding the return of a laptop that belonged to her office. Authorities had discovered the laptop, used by Awan, hidden in an office. Though it was part of a criminal investigation involving suspected data breaches of sensitive and classified information by a foreign national with suspicious ties, Wasserman Schultz initially refused to cooperate. And here, the anxious congresswoman tells the chief that if he doesn’t turn the device over, there would be “consequences.”
FBI’s Criminal Complaint Against Awan
Some suspect the Awan crew could be the source that leaked DNC emails to Wikileaks last year.
In the FBI’s criminal complaint filed last week, an agent states that Awan pretended to be his wife when he arranged for a housing loan. Then he made up a fake reason while on the phone with the bank for needing to transfer the money to Pakistan. He falsely claimed that the home was his primary residence and that the money was for home improvements. Photos reveal it was not.
Awan’s wife left for Pakistan after the probe started. Andrew McCarthy at National Review notes that she was carrying $12,400 in cash and that it is a felony to export more than $10,000 without filing a currency transportation report. According to True Pundit, the FBI wanted to hold Alvi Awan, but were overruled by then-FBI director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust filed an ethics complaint this week with Congress against Wasserman Schultz for continuing to employ Awan after his access was cut off.
Awan’s lawyer says the probe is due to anti-Muslim bigotry. Chris Gowen told Politico, “This is clearly a right-wing media-driven prosecution by a United States Attorney’s Office that wants to prosecute people for working while Muslim.”
Curiously, Gowen is a longtime Clinton insider. As reported by The Daily Caller and Conservative Review, he was a lawyer for the Clinton Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative and Clinton Health Access Initiative. He also served as Bill Clinton’s “travel aid” and directed advance operations for Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign. Why the Clinton machine would be interested in protecting a guy arrested for a shady bank loan remains unanswered.
A hearing for Awan is scheduled for August 21.
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