Obama-era Homeland Security officials indicted on federal theft, fraud charges

Barack Obama’s former watchdog at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was indicted for fraud last week.

Charles K. Edwards, who served as Obama’s acting inspector general at DHS from 2011 to 2013, was indicted on 16 counts Friday related to a scheme to steal government property and sell it at a profit, according to a Department of Justice press release. Edwards’ former subordinate, Murali Yamazula Venkata, was also charged.

Ex-Obama official indicted for fraud

Edwards and Venkata were indicted for 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.

According to prosecutors, the alleged scheme went on for three years after Edwards left his IG post in 2013. Between October 2014 and April 2017, Edwards allegedly “continued to leverage his relationship with Venkata and other DHS-OIG employees” to steal government software and “sensitive government databases” from DHS.

The stolen information included personal identifying details about government employees at DHS and the United States Postal Service. Edwards then allegedly tried to re-sell an “enhanced” version of that information to the Agriculture Department’s Inspector General though his company, Delta Business Solutions, for a profit.

Venkata and others were accused of having “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.” Edwards is also accused of conscripting software developers in India to help him in the scheme.

Corrupt watchdog

Ironically, the former watchdog was found in a bipartisan investigation by the Homeland Security and Governmental Operations Committee to have covered up misdeeds at the DHS in 2014, Law and Crime notes. The committee discovered that he “altered and delayed investigations at the request of senior administration officials, compromising his independent role as an inspector general.”

The report faulted Edwards for schmoozing with the government bigwigs he was supposed to be holding accountable and tipping them off about ongoing probes.

Edwards was infamously accused of interfering with a probe into Secret Service agents who solicited prostitutes in Colombia before then President Obama made a visit to the country. He was also accused of garden-variety nepotism,  allegedly arranging a sinecure for his wife at the agency and threatening to retaliate against anyone who complained.

Shortly before he was scheduled to testify before Congress about his actions, Edwards’ tenure as acting IG came to an end. At the time, Edwards — a 20-year career government official — was eyeing a permanent role as the DHS’ top watchdog. In a sign of how seriously Obama took corruption, Edwards was moved to the DHS’s office of science and technology rather than fired.

Not so scandal-free

Even after stepping down in disgrace from DHS leadership, Edwards was apparently emboldened to continue exploiting his government connections. But his dealings were just the tip of the iceberg of sleaze in the Obama administration, which is routinely referred to as having been “scandal-free” by the fawning mainstream media.

Obama, of course, was the president on whose watch the IRS targeted conservatives, the government spied on journalists, and a presidential campaign was surveilled by the FBI. “Scandal-free” indeed.

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