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Former Acting DHS IG raided secret databases & defrauded gov’t, DOJ alleges

The Department of Homeland Security logo hangs in San Diego during a news conference on October 26, 2017. (John Gibbins/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
March 11, 2020

 Charles K. Edwards, a former acting inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has been charged in a scheme from 2014 to 2017 to steal government proprietary software and information from confidential databases as part of a larger scheme to defraud the government.

A federal grand jury returned a 16-count indictment against Edwards, 59, on Friday, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release. Edwards left his DHS position in December 2013, but allegedly used his continued connections in the department to facilitate his scheme.

Edwards, along with fellow DHS employee Murali Yamazula Venkata, 54, and others, are alleged to have participated in a scheme to defraud the government by stealing confidential and proprietary software from DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG). They also reportedly accessed government databases containing personal identifying information of DHS and USPS employees in what the DOJ believed was an effort by Edwards’ company, Delta Business Solutions, to enhance the DHS-OIG’s software and sell a version of it to the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for a profit.

The DOJ assessed that Venkata and other remaining DHS employees helped Edwards steal the software, and further assisted him in configuring his computer to accept the software, as well as to set up a home server with which he could continue to modify the stolen technology into the version he planned to pass off to the Department of Agriculture. That stolen software also reportedly contained the logs of personal identifying information for the DHS and USPS employees.

As he worked on the project, Edwards reportedly retained Indian software developers. It was not clear from the DOJ press release if those foreign nationals would have been able to access and view the personal information of U.S. government employees compromised by Edwards alleged scheme.

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Edwards is being prosecuted by in the District of Columbia by Trial Attorney Victor R. Salgado of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney David B. Kent of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Edwards, who served in the acting inspector general role from 2011 to the end of 2013, previously came under scrutiny in an April 2014 U.S. Senate oversight hearing. The Senate determined Edwards had delayed or altered investigative findings and forewarned certain DHS officials about the outcomes of those insider probes.

The 2014 Senate investigation alleged Edwards also worked closely with aides to then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and took their advice on how to change the wording on reports that “could have been embarrassing to DHS and/or to the Obama Administration in an election year.”