Charles K. Edwards, a former Acting Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has been indicted on 16 counts relating to a scheme to steal software and databases containing the personal information of government employees so he could sell an enhanced version of that software to the Department of Agriculture, the Justice Department announced on Friday.
- Edwards, 59, and Murali Yamazula Venkata, a 54-year-old former subordinate, 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.
- Edwards served as acting DHS inspector general from 2011 through 2013 under the Obama administration, the Washington Post reported in 2014.
- The DOJ alleges that between October 2014 and April 2017, Edwards and Venkata stole software and records containing the personal identifying information of DHS and Postal Service employees so that Edwards’ company, Delta Business Solutions, could sell an “enhanced version” of the software to the Department of Agriculture at a profit.
- The DOJ also alleged that Edwards “continued to leverage his relationship” with Venkata and other DHS employees to execute the scheme after he left the office in December 2013.
- Forbes was unable to reach Edwards, Venkata, or their attorneys for comment.
Key background: The DHS Office of the Inspector General is tasked with providing independent oversight of the Department of Homeland Security. For the 2020 fiscal year, it had a budget of $51.7 billion. Edwards worked for the federal government for 20 years and resigned his post at DHS in December 2013, just three days before a hearing before the Senate where he was due to answer questions, according to the Post. In April, 2014, a Senate oversight panel found that Edwards had “jeopardized the independence” of the DHS Office of Inspector General after investigating whistleblower allegations that he had abused government resources and maintained inappropriate personal friendships with senior DHS officials.