Former Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Charles Edwards and his former aide Murali Yamazula Venkata were indicted Friday on charges of stealing government property to defraud the U.S. government. Yamazula was also charged with destroying records.
The indictments handed down by the Justice Department allege that Edwards and Venkata were working with others within the inspector general’s office to orchestrate a scheme to steal confidential and proprietary software that includes sensitive information on government employees. Prosecutors say Edwards was attempting to resell a revamped package of the software as a product of his firm, Delta Business Solutions 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,” the Department of Justice said in a press release announcing the indictments. “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.”
Their operations, according to the indictment lasted from 2014 to 2017. Edwards officially left the Department of Homeland Security in December of 2013 but prosecutors say the former watchdog of the agency leveraged his relationship with Venkata and other employees within the office to conduct his scheme.