A former US government inspector general has been indicted on charges of software and data theft and an alleged scheme to defraud the government.
Charles Edwards, 59, of Sandy Spring, Maryland, and one of his assistants at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Murali Venkata, 54, of Aldie, Virginia, were charged with conspiracy to commit theft of government property and to defraud the United States, theft of government property, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Venkata was also charged with destruction of records.
The indictment alleges that, between October 2014 and April 2017, Edwards, Venkata and others plotted to steal proprietary software from the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), where Edwards worked from 2011 to 2013.
They’re also accused of scheming to steal government databases containing personal information (PII) on DHS and US Postal Service (USPS) employees. The end goal was for Edwards’s company, Delta Business Solutions, to sell an “enhanced version” of DHS-OIG’s software to the OIG for the Department of Agriculture.
It’s claimed that Venkata and others went to great lengths to help Edwards in this scheme, including by: reconfiguring his laptop so it could upload the stolen software and databases, providing troubleshooting support for Edwards on demand and helping him build a test server at his home with the stolen software and data.
The indictment alleges Edwards even retained a group of software developers in India to work on the project.
This isn’t the first time the former acting inspector general has been in trouble. In 2014, a bipartisan investigation found that he had “jeopardized the independence of the Office of Inspector General and that he abused agency resources.”
He’s said to have rewritten and delayed critical audits at the request of DHS officials and maintained inappropriate personal relationships with staff.
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