When we reported last week that Imran Awan and his wife had been indicted by a grand jury on 4 counts, including bank fraud and making false statements related to some home equity loans, we also noted that those charges could simply be placeholders for further developments yet to come. Now, according to a new report from the Daily Caller, the more interesting component of the FBI's investigation could be tied to precisely why New York Democrat Representative Yvette Clarke quietly agreed in early 2016 to simply write-off $120,000 in missing electronics tied to the Awans.
A chief of staff for Democratic Rep. Yvette Clarke quietly agreed in early 2016 to sign away a $120,000 missing electronics problem on behalf of two former IT aides now suspected of stealing equipment from Congress, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
Clarke’s chief of staff at the time effectively dismissed the loss and prevented it from coming up in future audits by signing a form removing the missing equipment from a House-wide tracking system after one of the Awan brothers alerted the office the equipment was gone. The Pakistani-born brothers are now at the center of an FBI investigation over their IT work with dozens of Congressional offices.
The $120,000 figure amounts to about a tenth of the office’s annual budget, or enough to hire four legislative assistants to handle the concerns of constituents in her New York district. Yet when one of the brothers alerted the office to the massive loss, the chief of staff signed a form that quietly reconciled the missing equipment in the office budget, the official told TheDCNF. Abid Awan remained employed by the office for months after the loss of the equipment was flagged.
If true, of course this new information would seem to support previously reported rumors that the Awans orchestrated a long-running fraud scheme in which their office would purchase equipment in a way that avoided tracking by central House-wide administrators and then sell that equipment for a personal gain while simultaneously defrauding taxpayers of $1,000's of dollars.
Meanwhile, according to the Daily Caller, CDW Government could have been in on the scheme.
They’re suspected of working with an employee of CDW Government Inc. — one of the Hill’s largest technology providers — to alter invoices in order to avoid tracking. The result would be that no one outside the office would notice if the equipment disappeared, and investigators think the goal of the scheme was to remove and sell the equipment outside of Congress.
CDW spokeswoman Kelly Caraher told TheDCNF the company is cooperating with investigators, and has assurance from prosecutors its employees are not targets of the investigation. “CDW and its employees have cooperated fully with investigators and will continue to do so,” Caraher said. “The prosecutors directing this investigation have informed CDW and its coworkers that they are not subjects or targets of the investigation.”
Not surprisingly, Clarke's office apparently felt no need whatsoever to report the $120,000 worth of missing IT equipment to the authorities...it's just taxpayer money afterall...
According to the official who talked to TheDCNF, Clarke’s chief of staff did not alert authorities to the huge sum of missing money when it was brought to the attention of the office around February of 2016. A request to sign away that much lost equipment would have been “way outside any realm of normalcy,” the official said, but the office did not bring it to the attention of authorities until months later when House administrators told the office they were reviewing finances connected to the Awans.
The administrators informed the office that September they were independently looking into discrepancies surrounding the Awans, including a review of finances connected to the brothers in all the congressional offices that employed them. The House administrators asked Clarke’s then-chief of staff, Wendy Anderson, whether she had noticed any anomalies, and at that time she alerted them to the $120,000 write-off, the official told TheDCNF.
Of course, the missing $120,000 covers only Clarke’s office. As we've noted before, Imran and his relatives worked for more than 40 current House members when they were banned from the House network in February, and have together worked for dozens more in past years so who know just how deep this particular rabbit hole goes.
Also makes you wonder what else Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the Awans might be hiding. Certainly the decision by Wasserman-Shultz to keep Awan on her taxpayer funded payroll, right up until he was arrested by the FBI while trying to flee the country, is looking increasingly fishy with each passing day.