Ex-DHS inspector general indicted for allegedly stealing government software

The head-turning indictment accuses Charles Edwards of stealing DHS IG software and trying to profit from it.
(Marc Treble / Flickr)

Federal prosecutors on Friday announced charges against the former acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security for allegedly stealing proprietary software from the watchdog and trying to profit from it.

Charles K. Edwards, who served as acting DHS inspector general from 2011 to 2013, and his former associate Murali Yamazula Venkata, are accused of aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, and conspiring to steal government property to defraud the United States.

The alleged scheme took place from 2014 to 2017, after Edwards had already left DHS’s inspector general (IG) office. But the head-turning indictment accuses Edwards of coordinating with Venkata, who still worked at the IG’s office, to steal the IG’s software. Edwards and Venkata also allegedly took “sensitive government databases” containing the personally identifiable information of DHS and U.S. Postal Service employees.

Edwards then allegedly used the stolen code to improve software made by his company, Delta Business Solutions, and tried to sell it to the Department of Agriculture’s inspector general office.


Edwards needed some IT support to finish the operation, prosecutors said. Venkata and other unnamed individuals allegedly helped Edwards reconfigure his laptop so he could upload the stolen software and databases. The IT hands built a test server at Edwards’ residence that contained the stolen PII, and Edwards enlisted software developers in India to help him commercialize the software, according to the indictment.

Neither Edwards, Venkata nor Delta Business Solutions could be immediately reached for comment Friday. The DHS’s IG office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An inspector general is supposed to be an independent check on federal waste and abuse. But a 2014 Senate investigation found that, as acting inspector general, Edwards had delayed and altered investigations at the behest of senior Obama administration officials.

Sean Lyngaas

Written by Sean Lyngaas

Sean Lyngaas is CyberScoop’s Senior Reporter covering the Department of Homeland Security and Congress. He was previously a freelance journalist in West Africa, where he covered everything from a presidential election in Ghana to military mutinies in Ivory Coast for The New York Times. Lyngaas’ reporting also has appeared in The Washington Post, The Economist and the BBC, among other outlets. His investigation of cybersecurity issues in the nuclear sector, backed by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, won plaudits from industrial security experts. He was previously a reporter with Federal Computer Week and, before that, with Smart Grid Today. Sean earned a B.A. in public policy from Duke University and an M.A. in International Relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

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