The legal complications concerning Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her staff continue to evolve, and as has been the norm, the unexpected continues to take place. The trouble surrounding her former IT aide -- Imran Awan, who is in custody -- has deepened as federal prosecutors brought his wife, Hina Alvi, back to the United States from her native Pakistan.
However, before U.S. investigators began questioning her, with the promise of a plea deal, the case has taken another turn.
Back in Pakistan Alvi filed papers in court charging Awan with polygamy and said Awan “threatened the complainant of dire consequences," also threatening "to harm the lives of family of the complainant if she intervenes.” While unrelated to the the federal case of bank fraud charges, it seems clear this could affect the proceedings in which the couple are co-defendants. The husband and wife have retained independent counsel.
The federal case involves the couple transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the country to Pakistan. This is connected to sums drawn from Awan’s House banking accounts. Alvi left the country in May and was found to be in possession of thousands in cash. Later in July, as Awan attempted to flee to Pakistan, he was detained and arrested at Dulles airport.
Awan has numerous legal challenges he is facing. He is directly connected to the House IT scandal involving workers collecting laptops and other hardware from 20 House members, and they falsified invoices for other computer equipment. There is also the issue of these workers obtaining restricted access to the House servers, and large amounts of data were found to have been moved to offsite storage sites. Awan also has investigations into real estate holdings and also questionable practices with an automotive business he ran with his brother.
The charge of polygamy now is added to this list. Alvi’s complaint has also exposed criminal investigations into Awan physically abusing other women he may have been involved with, including the second wife. Also of note are business contacts he had established with an Iranian political figure, and a Pakistani police official.
The overriding question is, of course, how much of this involves Wasserman Schultz, and how involved she may have been with any of Awan's activities. She has shielded and protected him, retaining him on her staff as the other IT workers were relieved of their positions. It has prompted the question even from her House colleagues, what was behind her firm loyalty?
This new legal development with his wife means a new focus on Awan is established. Could the mounting legal pressure bring him to a breaking point where he cooperates with investigators?
Alvi appears to have begun distancing herself from Awan. Apart from separate lawyers, they also arrive to court independently, and records indicate they not only have their own residence here but she may have been living on her own in Pakistan. Without this united front, Awan is enduring mounting legal pressure.
Brad Slager is a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer who wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.