March 6, 2020 / 5:16 PM / in 23 days

Ex-inspector general at U.S. Department of Homeland Security indicted for stealing government property

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s former top watchdog, tasked with rooting out waste, fraud and abuse, was indicted on Friday on charges he plotted to steal the government’s proprietary software and confidential databases to boost his private business, the Justice Department said.

The indictment charges Charles K. Edwards, 59, who served as the acting inspector general at DHS from 2011 to 2013, as well as one of his subordinates, Murali Yamazula Venkata, 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, 54, also was charged with destroying records.

Reuters could not immediately identify attorneys representing the two.

The Justice Department said that from October 2014 to April 2017, Edward and Venkata plotted to steal the software used by the inspector general’s office at DHS, along with databases containing highly sensitive personal information about employees at DHS, as well as the U.S. Postal Service.

The goal, the department said, was to use that software as a model so that Edwards’ company, Delta Business Solutions, could sell an “enhanced version” to the inspector general’s office at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The department added that Edwards tried to leverage his relationships with people at the DHS inspector general’s office, including Venkata and other employees, after his December 2013 departure.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Dan Grebler

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