Friday, December 15, 2017
Politics

Debbie Wasserman Schultz's former IT worker, his wife indicted in bank fraud scheme

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's former information technology aide and his wife have been indicted on bank fraud charges.

A grand jury late Thursday returned an indictment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charging Imran Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, of Lorton, Va., on four counts: conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on a loan or credit application and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions.

Awan, 37, previously had been charged in a criminal complaint with one count of bank fraud. The indictment expanded on the charges and also added Alvi, 33, as a defendant.

The indictment states that Awan and Alvi conspired to obtain home equity lines of credit for $165,000 and $120,000 from a credit union on two properties. They provided false information that the properties were Alvi's principal residence and second home when they actually rented out the homes. Then, they transferred the proceeds to Pakistan.

Alvi, who also had worked for Wasserman Schultz, left the country for Pakistan in March. Awan was arrested in July at Dulles International Airport in Virginia attempting to board a flight to Pakistan. Awan came to the United States in 1997 and became a citizen in 2004, his lawyer, Chris Gowen, said.

Gowen said that a lawyer for Awan asked prosecutors several weeks before Awan traveled to Pakistan if there were any restrictions on his travel, and was told that there were no such restrictions. He said that Awan was intending to travel to Pakistan months after his father died to try to sort out payment on a piece of land his father had purchased in Pakistan.

In February, news reports surfaced that Awan was under investigation on suspicion of procurement theft related to his job as an IT worker for several Democratic members of Congress. While other members fired him, Wasserman Schultz, a Broward Democrat, waited until he was arrested to fire him.

The indictment makes no mention of an investigation related to procurement theft.

Gowen said that through Awan's IT job for House members he had no "classified clearance for anything."

Awan's law firm, Gowen Rhoades Winograd & Silva PLLC, said in a statement: "Regarding the charges that were actually filed against my client, we are confused as to why the Government elected to prosecute such a minor case when it declines to prosecute hundreds of cases a month far more serious than these charges."

For now, the law firm is also representing Alvi.

An arraignment date has not yet been set. Awan is scheduled for a Sept. 1 preliminary hearing.

The U.S. Attorney's Office had no additional comment.

Wasserman Schultz's spokesman David Damron said in a statement "As far as we know, these current charges do not appear to be associated with his work in the House."

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