A criminal investigation into IT contractors employed by dozens of House Democrats is sparking broader very concerned about continuing access to sensitive government emails, amid new allegations of illicit activity beyond Capitol Hill.
The investigation was announced last month by the U.S. Capitol Police and purportedly focuses on the contractors’ access to House computers and whether they took hardware and constructed questionable IT-related purchases.
A police spokesman, while declining to go into detail, told Fox News this week that the case remains opens and focuses on the actions of House IT support staff.
But a high-level House staffer acknowledged Monday to Fox News that the probe has raised concerns about emails being hacked.
Official documents and multiple sources tell at least five contractors — including brothers Imran, Jamal and Abid Awan — are the focus of the probe but that as many as six people could be involved.
The others purportedly involved are Imrans wife, Hina Alvi, and Rao Abbas, who is not part of the family.
They allegedly removed hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment from offices, including information technology and servers, and ran a procurement scheme in which they bought equipment, then overcharged the House administrative office that designates such contractors to members.
Sources also say the contractors, including one who worked for Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had unauthorized access to the House computer system.
The connection to the former Democratic National Committee boss has sparked questions about whether the contractors could have ties to the DNC hack last summertime, which was considered to hurt Hillary Clintons ultimately failed White House bid — or whether Russia or other outside spies accessed emails that the contractors allegedly put on a cloud server.
There have been no reports or proof in so far depicting the contractors were involved in a hacking incident.
House Democrat have stood by the contractors, privately and publicly suggesting their Muslim and Pakistani heritage inspired the probe and is contributing to fear-mongering.
Wasserman Schultz as of Friday was still applying Imran Awan, 36, as an adviser, despite his access to the chambers computer system having been rescinded.
Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y ., kept Alvi, 33, applied until about two weeks ago.
I have considered no evidence that they were doing anything that was nefarious, he told Politico. I wanted to be sure someones are not being singled out because of their nationalities or their religion.
But other troubling accusations have surfaced.
Police in January were called to the northern Virginia home of a woman identified in the incident report as the stepmother of the Awan brothers, as first to be provided by The Daily Caller News Foundation .
The woman alleged the brothers were keeping her away from her succumbing husband.
Abid Awan told police her bedside visits were causing their parent additional stress and that he had full power of attorney over him, then produced an unsigned, undated document as proof.
A family member told a foundation reporter that the stepsons had kept the women in a sort of illegal captivity from October 2016 apparently until their parents demise in early February in a plot to get his life-insurance fund. And they threatened her in an effort to get fund that their parent had stashed in Pakistan, the family member said.
The Daily Caller story said the stepmother has filed a separate police objection alleging insurance hoax.
According to LegiStorm.com, which tracks congressional pay, the contractors Capitol hill work started in 2004 with at the least two building six-figure salaries, including Abid Awan last year earning $166,944.
But Awan also had fund difficulties, contributing to concerns about the contractors’ access to sensitive emails and how that could be used. Awan declared bankruptcy in 2012 with more than $1.1 million in debt.
Court documents depict the debt included approximately $51,150 to the Congressional Credit Union, for two cars and a credit line. And Virginia court records present he has had 19 violations since 2009, mostly traffic-related offenses.
Database searches received no major criminal charges for any of the contractors allegedly under investigation.
The contractors could not be reached for remark.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report .
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