The attorney for Imran Awan, a former tech staffer for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and other House Democrats, said his client has paid back all the home equity loans he took out on two properties that are the basis for federal charges of bank fraud.
With that in mind, attorney Chris Gowen believes his client is going through additional and unwarranted legal scrutiny because of the political media storm surrounding his old work at the Capitol.
In mid-August, a federal grand jury issued indictments against Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, for conspiracy and bank fraud, alleging they misrepresented the fact that the properties used to obtain the loans were owned by Awan and Alvi, but were rented out to tenants at the time they applied for the loans. The loans were made on the understanding that the properties were their primary residence and a second home, instead of rental properties.
Prosecutors have also alleged that Awan and Alvi intended to move the money to Pakistan, where they have family.
"It's confusing to us why this case is being prosecuted," Gowen told the Washington Examiner. "It's not the type of case that would usually be prosecuted at the U.S. attorney level because there's been no loss [to the loan originators]."
Awan and Alvi have been at the center of speculation thanks to investigations by the FBI and Capitol Police over discrepancies regarding computer equipment purchased when the two were employed as tech staffers for numerous House Democrats.
Gowen slammed the media, claiming that "made up stories by right-wing reporters and bloggers" have put Awan and Alvi through the wringer, especially finding fault with the notion that the two might have had access to sensitive information during their tenure.
"Not even Congress people's emails, they can't get classified information on their email. They have to go a special room in Congress [to view classified material]. It's just ludicrous to suggest that they'd have any access to classified information. Our government's pretty good about that stuff."
Gowen says Awan and Alvi needed cash to help their family with a land deal in Pakistan that was quickly souring, and further asserts that the FBI discovered issues with the loans only because they seized Awan's computer as a part of the Congressional IT probe.
"There was no loss to anyone," Gowen said. "The government did not find out about this because a bank complained that they were ripped off."
Awan was arrested in July at Dulles International Airport. Alvi had already left the country in March at a time when there were no charges against her.
The Washington Examiner was first to report that Alvi would be returning to the U.S. from Pakistan, and had communicated though her attorney that she would voluntarily turn herself in if she could avoid being arrested in front of her children at the airport upon her return.
Gowen said it was always Alvi's plan to return, despite media reports that claimed otherwise. Awan has a court hearing slated for October 6, and Alvi could face an arraignment on the same day.