United Press International Writer
WASHINGTON (UPI) — An IT staffer for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has been under criminal investigation, was arrested when he tried to leave the country from Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport this week.
Imran Awan pleaded not guilty to one count of bank fraud after the arrest. Federal authorities said he allegedly tried to get a $165,000 home equity loan through the Congressional Federal Credit Union for a rental property, which violates the credit union’s policy because it is not the owner’s primary residence, reported Politico.
The $165,000 was then transferred to two people in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
Awan was on his way to Pakistan Monday night, where his wife and children live, when he was arrested. Federal agents said they didn’t believe Awan had any intention of returning to the United States.
He will have to wear a GPS-monitoring device, abide by a curfew and surrender his passports before his next court date in August.
Awan’s attorney, Chris Gowen, said his client is the victim of a right-wing media conspiracy.
“This is clearly a right-wing media-driven prosecution by a United States Attorney’s Office that wants to prosecute people for working while Muslim,” Gowen said. “A quick glance at what the government filed in court today confirms the lack of evidence or proof they have against my client.”
Awan is a longtime Democratic House staffer who has worked for more than 24 Democrats, including Wasserman Schultz, since 2004.
According to a February Politico report, Awan and several other staffers, including his wife, were under investigation for equipment and data theft from Democratic House members. His wife was fired in March and moved to Pakistan, but Awan was kept on Wasserman Schultz’s staff until his arrest Tuesday.
“Mr. Awan previously served as a part-time employee but his services have been terminated,” said Wasserman Schultz spokesman David Damron. “No charges, evidence or findings from the investigation have been formally shared with our office, so we cannot comment on them.”
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