By Luke Rosiak, DCNF
A former House of Representatives IT aide was arraigned in federal court Friday on four felony fraud charges, appearing with three attorneys including Chris Gowen, a former close aide to Hillary and Bill Clinton.
Gowen asked that Imran Awan’s GPS monitoring bracelet be removed, citing that Imran might need to attend to an emergency with his children. In a press conference outside court, Gowen admitted that the children are in Pakistan and refused to explain the discrepancy.
“His ability to parent, which may well be single parenting, if there is an emergency…” Gowen said.
He also asked for other restrictions on his movement to be lifted, saying he has been driving for Uber, but the company had no record of any driver matching several variations of Imran’s name.
Prosecutor Michael Marando opposed the motions, saying Imran is a severe flight risk. “From Day 1 there was a pattern of flight. It began September 2016… a pattern of transfers to Pakistan, hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said. The judge has not ruled on the motion.
Imran tried to board a flight to Pakistan in July, but the FBI arrested him at the airport. His wife, Hina Alvi, is already in Pakistan, having taken her kids out of school without notifying their Virginia school system and boarded a flight with household goods, and Marando said authorities are sure she has no intention to return.
Hina bought a round-trip ticket with a return ticket in September, but prosecutors said they don’t expect to see her in America in the next few weeks.
“She gave every impression to the government that she was leaving the country with no intention to return,” he said.
Alvi, who also worked for House Democrats including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has also been indicted. If she misses her arraignment — a date has not been set — she would formally become a fugitive
He said the money moves that led to the charges began occurring after September 2016, when the Awans learned they were under investigation. That highlights that the underlying investigation is into their work on Capitol Hill, with the current charges related to trying to flee after learning about that probe.
Marando said both intended to flee and not return, even though they bought round-trip tickets. “Imran had what the government would characterize as a one-way ticket to Pakistan,” he said, noting that the return ticket didn’t match with the date of his wife’s return ticket.
The prosecutors’ statements squarely rebuke claims made by Wasserman Schultz that Imran was not fleeing. She said he asked her for unpaid time off. However, records obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation show that Imran typically spends months in Pakistan most years, and his pay from Wasserman Schultz’s office has remained constant. This suggests that he has not taken unpaid time off for similar trips in the past, and it also raising questions about how he could do his job from abroad.
“She said it’s absurd to conclude he was trying to flee the country,” the Sun-Sentinel of Wasserman Schultz.
“They were being persecuted, their children were bullied at school. They were experiencing the things I was concerned about in terms of racial, ethnic and religious profiling she brought her family to Pakistan,” Wasserman Schultz said.
Gowen asked that Imran no longer be barred from traveling more than 50 miles, claiming that Imran — who made $165,000 a year in Congress and also owned four houses with his wife, needed money and was driving Uber. “He is driving for Uber and the 50 mile radius makes that hard… if he rejects a call he will lose his job.”
Uber spokesman Susan Hendrick said there was no record of an Imran Awan matching his description listed as driving for the company. Imran has also gone by two other names, and Hendrick said “There are not any individuals associated with the Uber app with the names ‘Mohammad Awan’ or ‘Shahid Awan’ in Lorton or Springfield.” Imran has two criminal misdemeanor convictions for driving offenses including reckless driving, according to court records.
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