In a press release today, the US Department of Justice charged a former Acting Inspector General for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the theft of proprietary software and confidential government databases.
The indictment named Charles K. Edwards, a former DHS Acting Inspector General between 2011 to 2013, but also his former aid, 54-year-old Murali Yamazula Venkata.
DOJ officials claim that between October 2014 and April 2017 — after Edwards left office — Edwards, Venkata, and others were part of a scheme that stole confidential and proprietary software from DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG).
Edwards and others also stole sensitive government databases containing the personal identifying information (PII) of DHS and United States Postal Service (USPS) employees, the DOJ claims.
US officials claim Edwards had set up his own company, named Delta Business Solutions, through which he wanted to sell an enhanced version of stolen DHS-OIG software to the OIG for the US Department of Agriculture, at a profit.
Edwards allegedly hired software developers in India for the purpose of altering the stolen software and preparing a modified version.
“Although Edwards had left DHS-OIG in December 2013, he continued to leverage his relationship with Venkata and other DHS-OIG employees to steal the software and the sensitive government databases,” the DOJ said today in an announcement.
According to court documents, Venkata, Edwards’ former aid, along with others, assisted the former DHS AIG by reconfiguring his laptop so that he could properly upload the stolen software and databases.
In addition, the DOJ claims they also provided Edwards with technical and troubleshooting support and even helped the former DHS AIG build a testing server at his residence where he could test the stolen software and stolen government databases.
Edwards and Venkata have been charged today with theft of government property, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Venkata has also been charged with destruction of records, the DOJ said.
In November 2014, an internal DHS investigation cleared Edwards on 13 charges such as awarding contracts to unqualified companies, destroying phone records, or modifying reports. He was, however, faulted for pressuring staff to do research for his doctoral dissertation and to review his wife’s graduate school homework.