Imran Awan, the former IT aide to congressional Democrats whose federal bank fraud case has drawn the interest of top Republicans, avoided jail time Tuesday after the defense complained about disparaging comments made against the defendant by President Trump and others.
During a hearing Tuesday in Washington, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan sentenced Awan to three months of supervised release plus time served. Chutkan, who cited “unfounded allegations” against Awan, also did not impose a fine.
Awan, who pleaded guilty in July to making a false statement on a loan application, delivered an emotional statement vowing: “I promise you this second chance will not go to waste.”
The prosecution, in a recent sentencing memorandum, did not advocate jail time for Awan.
Federal guidelines recommended a sentence of zero to six months in jail, followed by two to five years of supervised release. Prosecutors said they did not oppose a noncustodial sentence.
The case had generated great interest from conservatives, who suggested Awan could have been involved in a cyber breach operation. Awan, who was arrested last summer at Dulles International Airport before trying to board a flight to Pakistan, worked as a technology employee to top Democrats, including Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
But prosecutors said during July’s plea hearing that they investigated allegations of misconduct by Awan while on the job in Congress and said they "uncovered no evidence" that Awan "violated federal law with respect to the House computer systems."
Awan admitted in July’s plea deal to working to obtain home equity lines of credit from the Congressional Federal Credit Union in December 2016 by giving false information about a property. As part of the deal, the prosecution dropped fraud charges against Awan's wife, Hina Alvi.
In a sentencing memorandum filed this week, Awan’s attorney, Christopher J. Gowen, requested a sentence of time served plus a fine, citing “the costs incurred by Imran throughout this case, the nature of the offense, his substantial cooperation, the positions taken by the United States and the presentence investigator, and the conduct of several government officials, including the President of the United States.”
Trump has referred to Awan multiple times as “the Pakistani mystery man,” and mentioned him during his joint press conference this summer in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Awan was born in Pakistan, but came to the U.S. with his family when he was a teenager.
“Trump is not the only sitting government official who has indulged in false or outrageously speculative and racially-tinged attacks on Imran for political benefit,” Gowen wrote in the court document, taking aim at Republican lawmakers Louie Gohmert of Texas, Steve King of Iowa and Ron DeSantis of Florida.
Suspicions about Awan’s activities were raised after revelations that Philip G. Kiko, the chief administrative officer of the House, said in April that the House’s inspector general “discovered evidence of procurement fraud and irregularities” and “numerous violations of House security policies” by Awan and other IT employees connected to him.
Prosecutors said the government conducted a “thorough investigation of those allegations” but determined federal charges were not warranted. The case was investigated by the U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI’s Washington field office.
Before his arrest, Awan and other IT aides for House Democrats originally had been on investigators’ radar for months over concerns of alleged equipment theft, access to sensitive computer systems and more.
The government interviewed 40 witnesses, took custody of the House Democratic Caucus server and other devices, reviewed electronic communications between House employees and questioned Awan during multiple voluntary interviews, the plea deal said.
A grand jury in August 2017 first returned an indictment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charging Awan and his wife with federal bank fraud.
It’s not the only high-profile bank fraud case with a political connection: a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia is deliberating in the case of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges.