A former IT aide for Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz pleaded not guilty on Friday to multiple federal charges including bank fraud and conspiracy.
A grand jury had returned an indictment last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charging Imran Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, with a total of four charges.
Awan’s wife and children have already left the country and are back in the family’s homeland of Pakistan, according to the FBI.
Awan, after entering the not guilty plea, is due back in court on Oct. 16 for a status hearing.
Awan and other IT aides for House Democrats have been on investigators’ radar for months over concerns of possible double-billing, alleged equipment theft, and access to sensitive computer systems. Most lawmakers fired Awan in February, but Wasserman Schultz had kept him on until his arrest in July.
The indictment itself addresses separate allegations that Awan and his wife engaged in a conspiracy to obtain home equity lines of credit from the Congressional Federal Credit Union by giving false information about two properties – and then sending the proceeds to individuals in Pakistan.
The case has put renewed scrutiny on Wasserman Schultz for keeping Awan on the payroll for months, even after a criminal investigation was revealed and he was barred from the House IT network.
In a recent interview published in the Sun Sentinel, Wasserman Schultz blamed the “right-wing media circus fringe” for the attention on Awan. The former head of the Democratic National Committee suggested it’s all part of an effort to distract from the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign and possible ties to President Trump’s team.
After Awan was arrested at Dulles airport in Virginia trying to board a plane to Pakistan, attorney Christopher Gowen told Fox News that federal authorities have no evidence of misconduct by Awan relating to his IT duties.