WASHINGTON, D.C. Imran Awan, an information technology staffer for former Democratic National Committee Chair and current U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-Fla.) was arrested late last Monday at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia while attempting to board a flight to Qatar.Law enforcement authorities say they had been investigating Awan for close to six months for deliberately overbilling the federal government for IT hardware such as computers, iPads and routers, when the 37-year-old attempted to flee the country to his native born country of Pakistan.On July 25, Awan pleaded not guilt on one count of bank fraud for “knowingly engaging in a scheme to defraud the Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union” on a home loan. The criminal complaint and affidavit revealed that Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, also transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to Pakistan.Alvi left the country with their three children on March 5 on a similar flight to Doha, Qatar, on her way to Lahore, Pakistan. The FBI and U.S. Capitol Police approached Alvi, who was carrying “numerous pieces of luggage” and $12,400 in U.S. cash, and later learned that the children were abruptly taken out of school without notifying the Fairfax County Public School System.Law enforcement says that Alvi has a return flight booked for September, but have reason to believe she will not return to the U.S. Awan, who was arrested before he could board his July 24 flight, had purchased a return ticket for January 2018.FBI Special Agent Brandon Merriman, who drafted the criminal complaint against Awan, said his investigation included both physical surveillance and interviews.Christopher Gowen, Imran Awan’s lawyer and longtime ally of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, described Awan’s arrest as “a right-wing media-driven prosecution by a United States Attorney’s Office that wants to prosecute people for working while Muslim.”Gowen told Fox News that federal authorities have no evidence of misconduct by Awan relating to his IT duties.The day of Awan’s court hearing, Wasserman Schultz announced that she had terminated him.”Mr. Awan previously served as a part-time employee but his services have been terminated,” spokesman David Damron said in a statement. “No charges, evidence or findings from the investigation have been formally shared with our office, so we cannot comment on them,”The Florida Democrat had been aware of the investigation into Awan and Alvi for several months but kept him employed at the U.S. House of Representatives.In a strange encounter during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on May 18 that was examining the Capitol Police budget, Wasserman Shultz grilled Chief Matthew Verderosa about not returning a laptop belonging to her office.When Verderosa said that the laptop was an important part of a “criminal investigation” and could not be returned at that time, Wasserman appeared agitated and put pressure on the Capitol Police chief.”Under my understanding, the Capitol Police are not allowed to confiscate members’ equipment when the member is not under investigation it is their equipment and it is supposed to be returned,” she said.”Well, I think there are extenuating circumstances in this case,” Verderosa told the congresswoman.”I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way and you should expect that there will be consequences,” Wasserman Schultz said.RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called the case a “huge national security issue.””He had access to Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s computer, he had her password, he had access to all her files, everything having to do with Congress as well as, potentially, all of her DNC files, and guess what? She’s not cooperating,” McDaniel told a D.C. radio program the week of Awan’s arrest. “She’s obstructing every chance she can.”Awan is scheduled to be back in court on Aug. 21.
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OXON HILL, Md. The 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee got underway Wednesday with 291 word whizzes vying for the top prize, including the contest’s youngest-ever competitor.Competing for a $40,000 first-place cash prize, spelling virtuosos […]
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