On January 29, the Department of Justice announced three former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees were sentenced in the District of Columbia for their involvement in a conspiracy to steal proprietary software and sensitive law-enforcement databases from the United States government.
The individuals held notable positions within the DHS, with Charles K. Edwards, former Acting Inspector General of the DHS Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG), and Sonal Patel and Murali Y. Venkata working in DHS-OIG’s information technology department. The trio allegedly used their roles to acquire government software and databases containing “sensitive” law-enforcement information and personally identifiable information (PII) of over 200,000 federal employees from both DHS-OIG and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (USPS-OIG).
According to the government, Venkata, Patel, and Edwards intended to use the acquired software and databases to develop a commercial product for potential sale to government agencies. They hired a software development company in India to build the purported commercial product. To facilitate the Indian developers’ work, the former DHS employees gave the developers access to a large amount of sensitive information including law-enforcement records, witness and confidential informant information, and “hundreds of thousands” of government employees’ PII per the notice to victims. This sparked concerns about potential misuse and its impact on national security.
In January 2022, Edwards pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft of government property and to defraud the United States and theft of government property. He was sentenced to one year and six months in prison. Patel pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft of government property in April 2019, and was sentenced to two years of probation. In April 2022, a jury convicted Venkata of conspiracy to commit theft of government property and to defraud the United States, theft of government property, wire fraud, and destruction of records. He was sentenced to four months in prison.
The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent clients of all types and sizes in connection with white-collar criminal investigations. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.