Politics

Congress IT Probe Suspects Had Massive Debts, Years Of Suspicious Activity

Four people who worked for the House of Representatives have a history of massive debts and bankruptcy, a fondness for fast cars and real estate, and unusually complicated webs of intertwined finances.

The three brothers and a wife of one of them are under criminal investigation into sensitive congressional information security.

Chiefs of staff for dozens of Democratic lawmakers who employed the four were informed last week that a criminal probe was underway into their use of congressional information technology systems, including the existence of an external server to which House data was being funneled, and into the theft of and overbilling for computer equipment.

Brothers Imran, Abid, and Jamal Awan and Hina Alvi, Imran’s wife, each made $160,000 a year as information technology workers for the House. Their salaries and time were shared among dozens of Democratic members, including former Democratic National Committee Chairman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. The lawmakers also include members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Despite the generous salaries, the four were involved in multiple suspicious mortgage transfers and a debt-evading bankruptcy. Abid had more than $1 million in debts following a failed business called Cars International that he ran in Falls Church, Va., from November 2009 to September 2010. Business associates said in court documents that Abid had stolen money and vehicles from them.

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It’s unclear how Abid found time to run an automotive business while working full-time for Congress. He had been on the congressional payroll since 2005. A congressional credit union repossessed two of his personal cars before the business folded.

A vendor who supplied Abid’s business with cars said that he had not paid for the vehicles and wouldn’t return them, either. “The consignment agreements state it clearly that either Mr. Awan sells the cars for the agreed price no less $62,200 or return my cars back,” he wrote.

On a car record showing the title had been released to Abid, the vendor said “this is no authorise [sic] also I have no information about this car bought by defendant under my company business buy and sale no authorise [sic].”

Abid filed for bankruptcy in 2012, but somehow managed to keep ownership of two houses while telling the bankruptcy court and creditors that he had no assets with which to pay them. He signed a sworn statement that he and his wife, Natalia Soba, were living apart and needed separate residences.

“My spouse and I are legally separated under applicable non-bankruptcy law or my spouse and I are living apart other than for the purpose of evading the requirements of § 707(b)(2)(A) of the Bankruptcy Code,” Abid claimed in bankruptcy documents. But both houses had been in the family for years.

 Multiple small businesses and individuals went unpaid as a result of the 2012 bankruptcy. Abid also had an unpaid line of credit of $10,000 with the congressional credit union at the time of bankruptcy.

Abid’s record includes numerous driving- and alcohol-related legal problems, including driving with a suspended or revoked license, court records show. He was found guilty of drunk driving a month before he started at the House, and was arrested for public intoxication a month after his first day.

Cars were a family passion, and Imran has also been convicted of driving offenses serious enough to rise to the level of criminal misdemeanors, as well as using an illegal radar detector and driving an unregistered vehicle.

But unusual real estate deals were the more notable bond among the four.

Hina Alvi, Imran’s wife, bought two homes in Lorton in 2008, including one that all the brothers have been associated with at one time. In November 2016, Alvi sold that home to the youngest brother, Jamal, who is only 22 years of age, for $620,000. The criminal investigation began in late 2016.

The transaction capitalized on increasing Washington, D.C., real estate appraisals, netting her $150,000, while almost all the cost was incurred to the bank; Jamal put almost no money down.

Alvi’s husband, Imran, also owned a house in Springfield, which he put in his father’s name in 2008. Abid later claimed in bankruptcy that the house was his.

A spokesman for Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas told TheDCNF Friday that Jamal’s “employment with our office has been terminated.”

Hilarie Chambers, a spokeswoman for Rep. Sandy Levin — who employed Abid — told TheDCNF that “after being notified by the House Administration Committee, this individual was removed from our payroll. We are confident that everything in our office is secure.”

But some Democrats have not terminated their connection with the four, including Wasserman Schultz, who employs Imran and who resigned from her DNC post last year after a computer hack revealed embarassing emails. Derrick Robinson, spokesman for California Rep. Karen Bass, refused to comment on Alvi’s employment status.

Jack Langer, spokesman for the intelligence committee, said the committee office has its own IT staff and security measures and classified information from the panel is not allowed to be sent to members’ personal offices.

The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group was the first media outlet to name the four.

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