Former Aide to Rep. Wasserman Shultz Arrested Trying to Flee Country
The arrest came Monday night as the aide attempted to leave the U.S. for Pakistan.
Imran Awan, 37, was arrested at Dulles International Airport attempting to fly to Lahore, Pakistan. Awan was arrested by the FBI and Capitol Police and he has been charged with bank fraud. He was arraigned on Tuesday with one count of bank fraud, a federal offense, and pleaded not guilty.
Until Tuesday, Awan worked as an IT staffer for Wasserman Schultz. David Damron, a spokesman for her office, said he was fired after his arrest.
A misunderstanding or a white-collar crime?
According to officials, Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, defrauded the Congressional Federal Credit Union for $165,000 by lying on a home equity loan application.
Court documents presented to the court revealed Awan and his wife applied for the loan in December 2017. The couple told the loan officer that their Virginia residence listed on the application was not used as a rental property to secure the loan. The credit union does not provide loans to home that are used for rental income, citing them as “riskier” forms of collateral.
However, in the coarse of the investigation, federal agents interviewed several people who had rental agreements with the couple at the residence. The people were not identified for privacy reasons.
The terms of the loan also required the home listed on the application to be the primary residence of Awan and his wife. Surveillance revealed that the couple was also residing at two other residences.
Then, in January, Awan’s wife initiated a $283,000 wire transfer through the credit union to Faisalabad, Pakistan. The amount included the $165,000 loan, according to court documents.
His wife and their three children left the country in March with $12,700 cash. Officials said they do not believe that his wife plans to return to the U.S.
Or a “witch hunt”?
Christopher Gowen, Awan’s attorney, claims the charges are politically-motivated.
“For months we have had utterly unsupported, outlandish, and slanderous statements targeting Mr. Awan coming not just from the ultra-right-wing “pizzagate” media but from sitting members of congress,” Gowen said via an email statement.
“Now we have the Justice Department showing up with a complaint about disclosures on a modest real estate matter. To an extent, the situation speaks for itself.”
Gowen further claims that the charges are part of anti-Muslim sentiment being boosted by the United States government.
Wasserman-Shultz has, as of late, found herself immersed in her own scandal involving possible collusion between certain members of Congress, the DNC, and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.