Former Inspector General Pleads Guilty to Software Theft

A former acting inspector general for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has pleaded guilty to charges related to his theft of federal government software and databases.

Charles Edwards, 61, of Sandy Spring, Maryland, worked for the DHS Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) from 2008-2013, and before that at the US Postal Service Office of Inspector General (USPS-OIG).

At both organizations, he’s said to have had access to case management software and other systems that contain employees’ highly sensitive personal details.

After leaving the government and setting up his own Maryland-based business, Delta Business Solutions, Edwards apparently stole some of this software and databases containing employee personal information in a bid to develop his own version to sell back to the government.

Edwards pleaded guilty in the US District Court for the District of Columbia to conspiracy to commit theft of government property and theft of government property.

One of his assistants at the DHS, Murali Venkata, 56, of Aldie, Virginia, has pleaded not guilty to charges related to the conspiracy, and his case remains pending.

It’s alleged that Venkata and others helped Edwards in this scheme by reconfiguring his laptop so it could upload the stolen software and databases, providing troubleshooting support and helping him build a test server at his home with the stolen software and data.

Edwards was also said to have retained a team of software developers in India to work on the project.

 In 2014, a bipartisan investigation found that Edwards 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.

OIGs are supposed to be independent auditing, inspection and investigative bodies linked to major federal government agencies

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