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Former DHS watchdog charged with stealing government tech

A former Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General official is once again in hot water, as the Department of Justice announced March 6 that a grand jury had indicted former acting Inspector General Charles Edwards on charges of stealing government property with the intent to defraud the government.

According to the charges, Edwards and his former aid Murali Yamazula Venkata conspired to steal proprietary DHS software and sensitive databases containing personally identifiable information, so that Edwards’s company could later develop and sell a version of that software to the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The indictment further alleges that, in addition to stealing DHS-OIG’s software and the sensitive government databases, Venkata and others also assisted Edwards by reconfiguring his laptop so that he could properly upload the stolen software and databases, provided troubleshooting support whenever Edwards required it, and helped him build a testing server at his residence with the stolen software and databases, which contained PII,” the DOJ news release said.

“As further part of the alleged scheme, Edwards retained software developers in India for the purpose of developing his commercial alternative of DHS-OIG’s software.”

This is not the first time Edwards has been at the center of a government investigation into misconduct.

In 2013, Edwards left his position as the acting IG at DHS, just days before the Senate Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight had planned to hold a hearing over findings that Edwards had jeopardized the independence of his office by maintaining personal friendships with DHS leadership and directing reports to be altered or delayed to accommodate those officials.

“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 Justice Department news release said.

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