Obama-era DHS official indicted for identity theft, fraud

A man who worked as acting inspector general in President Barack Obama’s U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was indicted along with a subordinate Friday over a plot to steal government databases and records and use them for his own private business, according to a Justice Department press release.

Charles Edwards was acting inspector general (IG) at the DHS from 2011 to 2013. He and subordinate Murali Yamazula Venkata are facing conspiracy to commit theft of government property and to defraud the United States, theft of government property, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft charges, the release noted.

Venkata is also charged with destruction of records in the six-count indictment, which spans the time period between October 2014 and April 2017, the release stated. Others were also involved in the scheme, the release said.

Although Edwards left the DHS in 2013, he allegedly used connections with Venkata and others there to steal software and databases containing 250,000 employee records, The Washington Post reported. Edwards’ company, Delta Business Solutions, then allegedly used the software as a model to make an enhanced version that it tried to sell to the inspector general’s office at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Millions of dollars

The databases that were stolen had a value of $3.1 million and also contained sensitive data, The Washington Post reported.

The investigation has been ongoing by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Post Office, which had some of its employee records stolen by Edwards.

After stealing the information and materials, Edwards gave it to software developers in India that he hired to make a commercial version of the software and databases, according to the DOJ’s release.

Oh, the irony

The irony of Edwards’ arrest is particularly glaring since he was responsible, as acting IG, for oversight of the DHS including waste, fraud, and abuse, according to Reuters.

Turns out, he was the one committing the fraud and abuse that he was supposed to be policing.

According to Forbes, Edwards was a career official in Washington for 20 years and resigned when Senate investigators began to ask questions about his activities.

A Senate oversight panel found in 2014 that he had abused his power in the DHS and maintained inappropriate relationships with colleagues after his departure, Forbes said. Some of this information came from whistleblower allegations against Edwards.

Apparently, however, no action was taken by the panel or others in Congress to prevent further alleged criminal activity by Edwards.

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