Indictments, Probe Widens Against Ex-Wasserman Schultz IT Aide
A federal grand jury has now raised additional criminal charges against Imran Awan, the former House Democratic IT staffer with close ties to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.
Awan was arrested by the FBI last month at Dulles airport as he attempted to flee the U.S. for his home country of Pakistan, and charged with bank fraud.
The charges stem from a massive rental property operation Awan and his family members were running in Virginia, while Awan and his wife were in bankruptcy. The Awans had misrepresented themselves on mortgage loans for the properties.
There are other dubious questions about the Awans' real estate business, with multiple tenants saying they were required to pay rent with untraceable payments, such as cash, blank money orders, and checks written out to different people.
Nearly a month after his arrest, a federal grand jury has expanded the federal bank fraud charges against Awan to include four counts including conspiracy and making false statements.
Hina Alvi was also indicted last week, although she has already fled to Pakistan with her three children, taking a plane out of Dulles Airport. Officials allowed her to board the plane even though she was under criminal investigation by the U.S. Capitol Police and was carrying thousands of dollars in cash onto the plane.
Awan has pleaded "Not Guilty" to the charges against him, and suggesting that bigotry is at the root of the investigation against Awan, his lawyer has said that his client has only been indicted for "working while Muslim."
Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been criticized by Republicans and Democrats for her close ties to the Awan family, and for continuing to keep Imran Awan on her payroll months after the Capitol Police investigation began in February. The Florida congresswoman did not fire her chief IT staffer until his arrest last month.
In an email to the Sun Sentinel Tim Canova, who will be running against Wasserman Schultz in 2018’s Democratic primary, said that "millions of Americans" don’t trust her to "give straight answers to any of these questions" about the corruption scandal swirling around her office.
"Wasserman Schultz now makes a lot of self-serving excuses for Awan, dismisses her critics as right-wing media fringe, and suggests that law enforcement agencies are guilty of racial and ethnic profiling of Awan. For someone not involved in law enforcement, Wasserman Schultz has jumped to the worst conclusions about the motives of federal investigators and all other critics of how she has mismanaged her Congressional office."
In 2018 it will be up to voters to decide whether or not to fault Debbie Wasserman Schultz for the IT staffer scandal that put sensitive congressional data at risk of exposure and tied up millions of taxpayer dollars for reasons that are still not fully understood.