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Ex-Homeland Security Watchdog, Appointed By Obama, Indicted For Fraud, Theft Of Government Property

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The Obama administration’s Acting Homeland Security Inspector General and his former subordinate have been indicted on 16 counts of theft and fraud.

The charges against Charles K. Edwards and his staffer, Murali Yamazula Venkata, include theft of government property, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Venkata has also been charged with the destruction of records.

Edwards was an Obama appointee and left office in 2013 just before he was scheduled to answer questions about his crimes before a Senate investigative committee.

Now, he’s been indicted on 16 counts and faces serious jail time.

Here’s a rundown from Forbes on the indictment and charges detailed in the DOJ press release:

  • Edwards, 59, and Murali Yamazula Venkata, a 54-year-old former subordinate, were charged 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 was also charged with the destruction of records.
  • Edwards served as acting DHS inspector general from 2011 through 2013 under the Obama administration, the Washington Post reported in 2014.
  • The DOJ alleges that between October 2014 and April 2017, Edwards and Venkata stole software and records containing the personal identifying information of DHS and Postal Service employees so that Edwards’ company, Delta Business Solutions, could sell an “enhanced version” of the software to the Department of Agriculture at a profit.
  • The DOJ also alleged that Edwards “continued to leverage his relationship” with Venkata and other DHS employees to execute the scheme after he left the office in December 2013.
  • Forbes was unable to reach Edwards, Venkata, or their attorneys for comment.

“The DHS Office of the Inspector General is tasked with providing independent oversight of the Department of Homeland Security. For the 2020 fiscal year, it had a budget of $51.7 billion. Edwards worked for the federal government for 20 years and resigned his post at DHS in December 2013, just three days before a hearing before the Senate where he was due to answer questions, according to the Post. In April 2014, a Senate oversight panel found that Edwards had “jeopardized the independence” of the DHS Office of Inspector General after investigating whistleblower allegations that he had abused government resources and maintained inappropriate personal friendships with senior DHS officials,” the Forbes report added.

The Washington Post report from 2014 (cited above) details the seriousness of Edwards’ actions.

Venkata and others are also accused of reconfiguring Edwards’ laptop so that he could upload the stolen software and databases, and helped troubleshoot whenever Edwards needed. He even built a test server at his house with the stolen software and databases.

Edwards is also accused of employing Indian software developers for the purpose of developing his ripoff of DHS’s software.

The Senate report found that Edwards compromised his independent role as inspector general.

“We found that Mr. Edwards was a compromised inspector general . . . who was not exercising real oversight,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.), the ranking Republican on the subcommittee on financial and contracting oversight, which led the investigation of Edwards’s tenure. “Any report generated out of his office would be suspect,” the Washington Post reported.

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