August 18, 2017 at 3:20 pm #48771Joe (G.W.N.S.)Moderator
2 Wasserman Schultz IT aides indicted for conspiracy against U.S.
Congresswoman resigned as DNC chief when WikiLeaks released hacked committee emails in 2016
A federal grand jury Thursday indicted two former information technology (IT) aides of Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz — Pakistani-born Imran Awan and his wife Hina Alvi — on four counts of conspiracy in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The FBI arrested Awan at Dulles International Airport July 24 as he was preparing to board a flight to Pakistan. When his wife Alvi left the U.S. for Pakistan in March, federal authorities found more than $12,000 in cash hidden in a suitcase. She had withdrawn the couple’s three children from local schools and does not intend to return to the U.S., according to the FBI.
“Defendants AWAN and ALVI did unlawfully, willfully, and knowingly conspire, combine, confederate, and agree with each other to commit offenses against the United States,” including bank fraud, false statements, and unlawful monetary transactions, the indictment said.
An arraignment date has not yet been set, and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group’s question about when Hina Alvi would become a fugitive if she does not return to the U.S. voluntarily, or whether officials would seek to extradite her from Pakistan.
In addition to lying on multiple mortgage disclosures, as an affidavit alleged at the time of Imran’s arrest, the indictment claims Hina lied by claiming medical hardship in order to withdraw hundreds of thousands of dollars from a retirement program.
The Awans, three of their relatives and a close friend are the targets of an FBI and U.S. Capitol Police criminal investigation into allegations they committed congressional cybersecurity violations and large-scale theft of congressional property in a scheme that may have begun more than a decade ago.
The crew worked as shared IT aides for dozens of House Democrats, including many who were members of the intelligence, foreign affairs and homeland security committees. Most of the Democrats fired them when the Capitol Police investigation became public in February, and their access to the congressional IT system was terminated.
However, Wasserman Schultz kept Alvi on her payroll until March and Awan until the day after his arrest. Authorities arrested Awan on the bank fraud charges in order to take his passport and prevent his leaving the U.S. as the investigation into their Capitol Hill activities continues.
Awan retained Chris Gowen, a longtime aide to former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to represent him shortly after his arrest. Gowen has claimed in media interviews that Alvi left the country with the children only because of lost jobs and the high cost of living in the nation’s capital. Gowen told the Associated Press that the family lives “in squalor” in Pakistan.
Gowen also told The New York Times that the Awans wired series of large sums of U.S. dollars to Pakistan as part of a long-time plan to buy property there. The couple had a combined income of $360,000 a year and owned four properties in the Washington, D.C. area, public records show.
In January, Imran — while impersonating his wife, according to the FBI — wired $283,000 from the Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union.
“The wire transfer specialist asked AWAN for the reason for the wire transfer, and AWAN stated that it was for ‘funeral arrangements,’” the arrest indictment said. “The wire transfer specialist questioned whether ‘funeral arrangements’ was a sufficient reason for such a large transfer. AWAN then changed his reason to ‘purchasing property.’ The wire transfer specialist then initiated the $283,000 wire from the United States to two individuals in Faisalabad, Pakistan.”
Even after Awan’s arrest in July, it is possible more money flowed to Pakistan. On Aug. 3, he sold a home for $617,000, according to public records. Gowen declined to say if the proceeds were wired to Pakistan.
Politico reported that the Awan couple has a “friendly personal relationship” with Wasserman Schultz, who is a Florida Democrat, and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). They are also reportedly close to another Democrat, Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York.
Wasserman Schultz resigned from the DNC in July 2016 when Wikileaks released hacked committee emails. She has defended keeping Awan on her payroll even after she was aware he was suspected of, as she described it, “data transfer violations.” She claimed she had “racial and ethnic profiling concerns” and “would do it [keep Awan] again.”
In addition to allegations of fraud and the criminal investigation, other family members have been accused of fraud and worse by Muslim acquaintances and relatives in civil court.
Awan is currently involved in a civil case against his stepmother, Samina Gilani. Awan wanted his stepmother to sign a power of attorney document giving him access to money in Pakistan that was stored in his recently-deceased father’s name. Their stepmother has become homeless while the children — with a combined income of hundreds of thousands per year — are fighting her over a $50,000 life insurance policy.
She claims that Awan used his IT skills to wiretap her and his government connections to intimidate her. Gilani also said Awan told her he had the power to have people kidnapped.
Imran Awan’s brothers Jamal and Abid also were on the House payroll at chief-of-staff level salaries, and Jamal filed a death certificate for his father that falsely said he was divorced. Abid changed the beneficiary of their father’s life insurance policy from the wife to himself after his death, Gilani’s lawyer said.
“Imran Awan threatened that he is very powerful and if I ever call the police again, [he] will … kidnap my family members back in Pakistan,” Gilani claimed in the documents filed in Fairfax County, Va.August 20, 2017 at 8:57 pm #49034Joe (G.W.N.S.)Moderator
Federal authorities are investigating whether sensitive data was stolen from congressional offices by several Pakistani-American tech staffers and sold to Pakistani or Russian intelligence, knowledgeable sources say.
What started out 16 months ago as a scandal involving the alleged theft of computer equipment from Congress has turned into a national-security investigation involving FBI surveillance of the suspects.
Investigators now suspect that sensitive US government data — possibly including classified information — could have been compromised and may have been sold to hostile foreign governments that could use it to blackmail members of Congress or even put their lives at risk.
“This is a massive, massive scandal,” a senior US official familiar with the widening probe told The Post.
Alarm bells went off in April 2016 when computer security officials in the House reported “irregularities” in computer equipment purchasing. An internal investigation revealed the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars in government property, and evidence pointed to five IT staffers and the Democratic Congress members’ offices that employed them.
The evidence was turned over to the House inspector general, who found so much “smoke” that she recommended a criminal probe, sources say. The case was turned over to Capitol Police in October.
When the suspected IT workers couldn’t produce the missing invoiced equipment, sources say, they were removed from working on the computer network in early February.
During the probe, investigators found valuable government data that is believed to have been taken from the network and placed on offsite servers, setting off more alarms. Some 80 offices were potentially compromised.
Most lawmakers fired the alleged “ringleader” — longtime IT staffer Imran Awan — in February. But Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former Democratic National Committee chief, kept Awan on her payroll until his arrest last month on seemingly unrelated charges of defrauding the congressional credit union.
For more than a decade, Awan, his wife, two relatives and a friend worked for 30 House Democrats. They included New York City pols Gregory Meeks, Joseph Crowley and Yvette Clarke and members of the sensitive Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees.
The Democrats who hired the five suspects apparently did a poor job vetting them. Awan’s brother Abid had a rap sheet with multiple offenses, including a conviction for DWI a month before he was hired, and filed for bankruptcy in 2012.
Most had relatively little IT experience. Yet they hauled in a combined $4 million-plus over the past decade. One, a former McDonald’s worker, was suddenly making as much as a chief of staff.
“These lawmakers allowed an insider threat to come into the House,” the official charged. “Computer equipment was stolen, taxpayers were robbed of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and sensitive data was compromised and possibly sold overseas.”
On Thursday, a federal grand jury indicted Imran Awan on four seemingly unrelated felony counts including bank fraud, conspiracy and making false statements. They also indicted his wife, Hina Alvi. FBI agents seized hard drives and other evidence from their Virginia home.
The indictment says the couple wired close to $300,000 in fraudulently obtained funds to Pakistan in January, as the Capitol Police investigation heated up.
FBI agents last month collared Awan, 37, at the Dulles International Airport airport as he tried to board a flight to Pakistan. Alvi, 33, fled to Pakistan in March.
Now that prosecutors have Awan hung up on the fraud charges, they will try to squeeze him harder in the larger cyberespionage investigation, according to the US official, who expects additional charges and arrests in the case.
Awan’s lawyer, Christopher Gowen, who has worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaigns as well as the Clinton Foundation, maintained that his client was only indicted “for working while Muslim.”
The investigation has touched Democratic leaders including Wasserman Schultz, who has been accused of protecting Awan. She stuck by her close aide, despite being briefed several months ago by House administrators and security officials about his “suspicious activities” on the Hill, sources say.
Wasserman Schultz attempted to downplay his alleged conduct, saying he was “transferring data outside the secure network, which I think amounted to use of apps that the House didn’t find compliant with our security requirements.” Such transfers though, could be a serious, potentially illegal, violation.
The US Attorney’s Office in Washington has taken possession of a laptop issued to Awan from Wasserman Schultz’s office, according to the sources, and she has reportedly retained counsel.
Earlier this year, she badgered the Capitol Police chief to return the laptop to her, even threatening him with “consequences.”
The congresswoman could not be reached for comment, but she recently told a local paper that scrutiny of her Muslim aide was motivated by “racial and ethnic profiling.”
Awan had access to Wasserman Schultz’s e-mails at both Congress and the DNC, where he had been given the password to her iPad. After DNC e-mails and research files were stolen during the presidential election, Wasserman Schultz reportedly refused to turn over the server to the FBI and instead called in a private firm to investigate and ID the hackers. The firm blamed the Russian government, while admitting, “We don’t have hard evidence.” The corrupted DNC server, held in storage, still has not been examined by the FBI.
Wasserman Schultz denies the DNC turned down the FBI’s assistance or that her congressional or DNC e-mails were compromised by Awan.
“This whole investigation pivots off Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” the official said.
“It’s clear that large bytes of data were moved off the secure network,” said another source close to the investigation, adding that Awan and the other four staffers under investigation had “full and complete access” to lawmakers’ e-mails, calendars, schedules, hearing notes, meeting notes and memos and other sensitive information.
Investigators are trying to determine if any classified information was compromised. Although the network that was breached is an unclassified system, it’s possible that members or staff cleared to handle classified information inadvertently sent such information in e-mails after getting classified briefings, sources believe.
“Logic dictates that sensitive data was compromised,” the senior official speculated. “An accused criminal with close ties to Pakistan had full and complete control over data that went out over the network.”August 21, 2017 at 9:27 am #49063D CloseModerator
This guy is a real low-life. I’m very curious what dirt he had on everyone. The fact that DWS kept him on her payroll so long after it became apparent he was dirty tells me he knew where bodies were buried. I guess the FBI has some idea.
The only easy day was yesterdayAugust 21, 2017 at 9:50 am #49066zeerfParticipant
This guy is a real low-life. I’m very curious what dirt he had on everyone.
Same here.August 21, 2017 at 5:32 pm #49093HiDesertRatParticipant
I predict he will have a heart attack or hang himself, he knows too much and/or DWS will drown in a bath tub. They have to break a link in the chain. Interesting side note is this guy has an upper level clintonista attorney representing him. I would conjecture there is also connections to the Seth Rich case as well and of course the DNC deep sixing Bernie Sanders’ candidacy. It’s a given if the authorities have the huevos to squeeze him til he talks, someone is gonna die.August 25, 2017 at 10:54 am #49363fabioParticipant
Agree with HiDesertRat. This is another mysterious death in the making.
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