Ex-DHS Officials Receive Sentences for Conspiracy to Illegally Acquire Sensitive Government Data

Ex-DHS Officials Receive Sentences for Conspiracy to Illegally Acquire Sensitive Government Data

Three Former DHS Employees Sentenced for Conspiracy to Steal Government Data

In a significant legal development, three former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees faced sentencing in the District of Columbia for their involvement in a conspiracy to pilfer proprietary software and sensitive law-enforcement databases from the U.S. government.

The sentences were handed down as follows: Charles K. Edwards, 63, received a prison term of one year and six months; Sonal Patel, 49, was sentenced to two years of probation; and Murali Y. Venkata, 58, received a four-month prison term.

Individual Sentences and Guilty Pleas

Charles K. Edwards, the former Acting Inspector General of the DHS Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG), pleaded guilty in January 2022 to conspiracy charges related to the theft of government property and defrauding the United States.

Sonal Patel, employed in DHS-OIG’s information technology department, received two years of probation after pleading guilty in April 2019. Murali Y.

Venkata, convicted by a jury in April 2022, faced charges including conspiracy, theft of government property, wire fraud, and destruction of records.

Conspiracy Details and Stolen Information

According to court documents and trial evidence, Edwards, Patel, and Venkata, who previously worked at the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (USPS-OIG), conspired to steal proprietary U.S. software and databases containing sensitive law-enforcement information, as well as personally identifiable information (PII) of over 200,000 federal employees.

The intention was to utilize the stolen data to create a commercial software product for sale to government agencies.

International Involvement and Obstruction of Investigation

As part of their scheme, the conspirators disclosed the stolen software and databases, including PII, to software developers based in India.

Venkata, upon learning of the investigation, attempted to obstruct the inquiry by deleting incriminating text messages and communications.

Official Statements and Investigation

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari of DHS-OIG, and Executive Special Agent in Charge Michael Ray of USPS-OIG jointly made the announcement.

The case was investigated by DHS-OIG and USPS-OIG.

Legal Proceedings and Prosecution Team

Trial Attorney Celia Choy of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section (PIN) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Macey for the District of Columbia led the prosecution, with significant contributions from former PIN Senior Litigation Counsel Victor Salgado and former Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kent.

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