Three former DHS employees have been sentenced in Washington D.C. on charges of conspiracy to steal proprietary software and sensitive law-enforcement databases from the U.S. government. They intended to use the information in a commercial venture.
Charles K. Edwards, a resident of Sandy Spring, MD, faces one year and six months in prison. Edwards pleaded guilty in January 2022 to his charges. Sonal Patel, from Sterling, VA, faces just two years of probation. Patel pleaded guilty to the charges in April 2019. Murali Y. Venkata, from Aldie, VA, faces four months in prison. Venkata was convicted by a jury for conspiracy to commit theft of government property and to defraud the U.S., as well as theft of government property, wire fraud, and destruction of records.
Stealing from the Government to Sell a Tool to the Government
Venkata’s role in the conspiracy also included exfiltrating U.S. Government source code from a DHS-OIG facility, and assisting Edwards in setting up three computer servers in Edward’s residence so that Indian software developers could access those servers and develop a commercial version of a case management system.
“Edwards was the former Acting Inspector General of the DHS Office of Inspector General,” according to court documents and evidence presented during the trial. “Patel and Venkata were employed in DHS-OIG’s [IT] department.”
“Edwards, Patel, and Venkata conspired to steal proprietary U.S. software and databases containing sensitive law-enforcement information and the personally identifiable information (PII) of over 200,000 federal employees from DHS-OIG and USPS-OIG,” the Department of Justice stated in a press release. “They planned to use the stolen software and databases to create a commercial software product to be offered for sale to government agencies. As part of the scheme, the co-conspirators disclosed the stolen software and databases containing PII to software developers located in India. After Venkata learned of the investigation, he deleted incriminating text messages and other communications in an effort to obstruct the investigation.”
In his biography, currently on the U.S. House of Representatives website, Edwards is described as ‘having more than 22 years of experience in the Federal Government and has held leadership positions at several agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Service’.
Edward’s bio continues by saying, “He also holds a Federal Chief Information Officer Certificate and Master’s Certificate in Information Technology Project Management from Carnegie Mellon University. In addition, Mr. Edwards is certified as a Project Management Professional.”