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Ex-DHS acting IG pleads guilty to stealing software, databases in defrauding scheme

A former acting inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday pleaded guilty to several charges in connection to stealing government software and databases in a scheme to create and sell a case management system to government agencies later on, the Justice Department announced on Friday.

Former acting DHS Inspector General Charles Edwards pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft of government property and theft of government property after he stole software from his former office between at least 2015 and 2017. 

Edwards, whom court filings said also previously worked at the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General, also stole government databases that included DHS and U.S. Postal Service employee personal information, according to the department’s news release. 

The former Obama administration official stole the government property “so that his company could develop a commercially-owned version of a case management system to be offered for sale to government agencies,” according to the Justice Department.

The news release noted that these crimes happened after he had left the inspector general’s office in 2013 and when he was the founder of the Maryland-based Delta Business Solutions Inc. 

“Today Mr. Edwards accepted responsibility for having unauthorized possession of the case management system that he himself helped build when he was with the federal government,” Courtney Forrest, an attorney for Edwards, said in a statement.  

“While he had no intent to harm anyone — in fact he was trying to build a better system for the government — he understands that his possession of the system and the sensitive data within it as a private citizen was inappropriate and sincerely regrets his error in judgment,” Forrest continued.

Murali Y. Venkat, who has also been charged in connection to the case, will be charged at a later time but pleaded not guilty to his charges.

As acting DHS inspector general, Edwards has been the subject of past scrutiny, including a Senate probe regarding allegations at the time of employing his wife and violating anti-nepotism laws, and whistleblower allegations regarding mismanagement and abuse.

The Hill has reached out to the attorney of Venkat for comment.

— Updated at 4:38 p.m.

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