Imran Awan, an aide to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who is at the center of a criminal investigation, was arrested trying to flee the country on Tuesday. Authorities picked him up at Dulles Airport attempting to board a flight to Lahore, Pakistan.
David Dameron, a spokeman for Wasserman Schultz, said on Tuesday that he was fired but a senior staffer confirmed that was not true. He retained a role of “advisor” despite being barred from accessing the House’s computer system since February.
The news comes only days after reports revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seized a number of “smashed hard drives” from Awan’s house. Wasserman Schultz once argued about the seizing of Democrats’ devices with Capitol Hill Police.
The investigation could potentially impact dozens of Democratic lawmakers. Awan was arrested on bank fraud and is prevented from leaving the country while the charges are pending. He pled not guilty to one count of bank fraud during his arraignment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and was released Tuesday on a “high-intensity supervision program.”
He was forced to surrender his passports, must wear a GPS monitor, is subject to a curfew of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and cannot leave a 50-mile radius of his home in Lorton, Virginia. He’s scheduled to reappear in court for a preliminary hearing Aug. 21.
He was allegedly one of many involved in a scheme to defraud the Congressional Federal Credit Union by obtaining a $165,000 home equity loan for a rental property. It also involved double-charging the U.S. House of Representatives for IT equipment and suspected exposing House information online.
Those funds were then included as part of a wire transfer to two individuals in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
His wife, Hina Alvi, has already left the country for Pakistan along with their children. She had “numerous pieces of luggage” and more than $12,000 in cash, FBI agent Brandon Merriman wrote in the affidavit. But federal officials do not believe she has any intention of returning to the United States.
Awan, a longtime IT staffer who worked for more than two dozen House Democrats, was paid nearly $2 million by House Democrats since 2004. His wife and his brother, Abid Awan, were also each paid more than $1 million working for House Democrats. In total, since 2003, the family has collected nearly $5 million.