Wasserman Schultz IT Staffer Arrested at Dulles Airport Trying to Flee Country
Former House IT staffer Imran Awan was arrested Monday night at Dulles International Airport where he was "trying to leave the country," Fox news reported Tuesday evening. Following his arrest for bank fraud, Awan was finally fired by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.
Imran and his Pakistani-born brothers, Abid and Jamal Awan, are currently under criminal investigation by U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI on suspicion that they accessed congressional computers without permission and stole equipment. There is also evidence of "financial schemes that extend beyond the Capitol Police’s purview and may expand to Pakistan," according to The Daily Caller.
The Awan brothers worked for more than 30 House and Senate Democrats, as well as former head of the DNC Wasserman Schultz, who kept Imran on even as he was being investigated for serious crimes. The Pakistani clan worked for House Democrats for more than a decade, reportedly earning hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Fox News reports that "officers and agents from the U.S. Capitol Police, the FBI and Customs and Border Protection were involved in the arrest of Imran Awan at Dulles International Airport."
Awan, 37, of Virginia, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to one count of bank fraud during his arraignment in federal court in Washington, D.C. He was released but will have to wear a GPS monitor and abide by a curfew.
Awan also was ordered to turn over all his passports. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 21.
Law enforcements authorities for months have been looking into how Awan may have double-billed the House for equipment like computers, iPads, monitors, keyboards and routers. Several relatives of Awan worked for House Democrats and were fired months ago. Awan, however, was kept on staff by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., even though he was no longer allowed access to the House server network.
Wasserman Schultz, though, has now fired Awan. Spokesman David Damron said Tuesday in a statement:
"Mr. Awan previously served as a part-time employee but his services have been terminated. No charges, evidence or findings from the investigation have been formally shared with our office, so we cannot comment on them."
Authorities also have looked into IT workers putting sensitive House information on the “cloud” and potentially exposing it to outside sources.
Fox News is told that federal officials arrested Awan at Dulles airport in suburban Virginia as he was “trying to leave the country.”
The criminal complaint and affidavit said he had bought a ticket to fly Monday to Doha, Qatar, and then Lahore, Pakistan, with a return flight booked for early January. The affidavit specifically alleged he engaged in a scheme to defraud a Congressional Federal Credit Union. It did not appear to go in depth into the other matters investigators have been looking into.
Meanwhile, the counsel for Wasserman Schultz, the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman, recently began negotiating with Capitol Police for access to her laptop in the case. Until this point, she had resisted USCP efforts to look at her computer – even suggesting “consequences” for the agency if the computer was not promptly returned.
FBI agents seized smashed computer hard drives from Awan's home last February, The Daily Caller reported earlier this week, based on the allegations of two sources now living in the Virginia residence.
Imran's wife, Hina Alvi, absconded back to Pakistan months ago, where she is "under government protection," according to The Daily Caller. Alvi is also under criminal investigation.
Sources on the Hill speculated that the brothers were blackmailing members of Congress with secrets captured from emails. "Members of Congress have displayed an inexplicable and intense loyalty towards the suspects," technology aides told The Daily Caller back in May.