The 16-count indictment includes charges of theft of proprietary software and intent to defraud the U.S. government.
A federal grand jury indicted a former acting inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security and his former subordinate in connection with the theft of proprietary software and databases containing government employees’ personal information for the purpose of defrauding the U.S. government, according to a Justice Department announcement.
The Justice Department alleges the defendants—Charles K. Edwards, the former acting inspector general at DHS, and Murali Yamazula Venkata—were driven purely by profit.
“From October 2014 to April 2017, Edwards, Venkata, and others executed a scheme to defraud the U.S. government by stealing confidential and proprietary software from DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), along with sensitive government databases containing personal identifying information (PII) of DHS and [United States Postal Service] employees, so that Edwards’s company, Delta Business Solutions, could later sell an enhanced version of DHS-OIG’s software to the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Agriculture at a profit,” according to the Justice release.
Edwards resigned his post as acting IG in December 2013, amid investigations by a Senate oversight panel that ultimately concluded his integrity was compromised due to collaboration with senior government officials he was supposed to be independently overseeing.
But Edwards remained employed at DHS’ Office of Science and Technology, and according to the indictment, he “continued to leverage his relationship with Venkata and other DHS-OIG employees to steal the software and the sensitive government databases.”
The Justice Department alleges Venkata and others also helped Edwards reconfigure his laptop in order to upload the stolen software and databases, and provided troubleshooting support at Edwards’ request.
Former subordinates also helped Edwards use the stolen software and PII databases to build a testing server at his residence, according to the indictment. He also allegedly retained software developers in India for the purpose of developing his commercial alternative to DHS-OIG’s software.
The indictment is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Victor R. Salgado of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney David B. Kent of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, Justice said.