Luke Rosiak on October 9, 2017
The indicted husband-and-wife team of former IT aides to Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz sat directly across from each other at the defendants’ table in federal court Friday in Washington, D.C., but refused to look at each other.
Even as they are co-defendants in a U.S. case, Imran Awan’s own wife, Hina Alvi, has become the latest person to accuse him of fraud, filing papers against him in Pakistani court, according to Pakistani news channel ARY.
The couple were in U.S. court to face bank fraud charges related to sending money to Pakistan around the time they learned they were under investigation for abuses related to their work managing IT for members of Congress. Awan was arrested at Dulles Airport in July attempting to board a flight to Pakistan.
Wasserman Schultz, former chair of the Democratic National Committee, and other House Democrats have vigorously defended Awan, claiming the Capitol Police might be drumming up charges out of Islamaphobia.
Alvi was arraigned Friday on four felony counts, and Awan, who has already been arraigned, requested that his GPS monitoring bracelet be taken off — citing the fact that his wife was in America as the reason he was not a flight risk.
Yet the couple entered and left the court separately, have different lawyers, and Awan’s lawyer told the judge that the husband and wife are staying “in a one-bedroom apartment and then also a house.”
Pakistani legal papers published by the news channel show Alvi recently accused Awan of illegally marrying another woman, and of fraud. “My husband Imran Awan son of Muhammad Ashraf Awan, committed fraud along with offence of polygamy,” she charges in the papers.
Hina’s U.S. lawyer, Nikki Lotze, did not dispute the account. “I don’t see how that’s newsworthy,” Lotze told The Daily Caller News Foundation. The Pakistani legal petition named as the second wife is a woman who records show told Virginia police she felt like Awan was keeping her “like a slave.”
Awan, his wife and two brothers — all previously on the payroll of House Democrats — became subjects of a Capitol Police investigation last year after investigators concluded they were submitting falsified invoices for equipment and had transferred “massive” data off a House server. After he was banned from the House network, Awan left a laptop with the username RepDWS in a Capitol Hill phone booth.
Although The Washington Post has reported that investigators found that Awan and his relatives made unauthorized access to a congressional server 5,400 times, Wasserman Schultz has said concern about the matter was the stuff of the “right-wing media circus fringe.”
Awan and Alvi have been charged with bank fraud involving moving money to Pakistan, but they have not been charged with crimes related to their work, and the other family members have not been charged at all. Awan’s attorney used Friday’s hearing to argue that he “very strongly” wanted to block prosecutors from using evidence they found in the Capitol Hill phone booth.
The Pakistani legal motion filed by Alvi states: “A few months ago I got apprised of the fact that my husband has contracted second marriage secretly, fraudulently and without my consent with Mst. Sumaira Shehzadi Alias Sumaira Siddique Daughter of Muhammad Akram r/o Township, Lahore. The second marriage of my husband is illegal, unlawful and without justification.”
“The court has recorded the testimonies of the applicant and other witnesses,” the Pakistani news outlet reported.
Last month, TheDCNF published police reports showing that two women who appeared to be in romantic relationships with Awan, but who were not Alvi, called the police on him in Virginia. One, Salam Chaudry, said she “just wanted to leave,” while the second was named Sumaira Siddique.
Criminal investigations involving Siddique and Awan in Virginia took place on Oct. 16, 2015 into assault, and Nov. 16, 2015 into telephone threats. Siddique called them again on July 18, 2016 and said he kept her there “like a slave.”
Awan’s attorney, Chris Gowen, told TheDCNF in an email this report is “totally false,” but did not elaborate, except to say, “this is clearly part of your Trump agenda.” He also said the Virginia police report story is “totally false,” although those police reports obtained from the Fairfax County police department are online, and anyone can receive them directly from the police by submitting a Freedom Of Information Act request.
The family’s lawyers have blamed members of Congress for the billing irregularities found by investigators. A Capitol Hill Republican aide close to the probe told TheDCNF he takes members’ unusual defense of an aide accused of violating rules to indicate that they may believe a full investigation into the situation would implicate members in a procurement scheme.
The Awan family had access to the full digital files of 45 House members and their staffs, but Democrats have said they don’t believe he would abuse that access, despite a host of financial red flags, including financial ties to an Iranian fugitive and money sent to a Pakistani police officer.
In a civil case this year, Awan’s stepmother Samina Gilani accused Abid Awan, who was also on the House payroll, of stealing a $50,000 life insurance policy, and said Awan used his employment in Congress to intimidate people.
“Imran Awan introduces himself as someone from US Congress or someone from federal agencies,” she charged. He “threatened that he is very powerful and if I ever call the police [he] will do harm to me and my family members back in Pakistan and one of my cousins here in Baltimore.”
Awan wanted her to sign papers giving him access to assets stored in Pakistan in his father’s name.
Fifteen of 17 female members of Congress who employed the Awans declined to distance themselves from him after TheDCNF sent them copies of the police reports.