Three former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees have been sentenced for stealing proprietary U.S. government software and databases, including personal data from 200,000 federal employees. Charles K. Edwards, the former Acting Inspector General, received a 1.5-year prison sentence, while Sonal Patel and Murali Y. Venkata, both from the IT department, were sentenced to 2 years of probation and 4 months in prison, respectively. The trio pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft of government property and defraud the United States, as well as theft of government property between 2019 and 2022.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the individuals, who previously worked at the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, collaborated to steal U.S. proprietary software and databases. They shared the stolen assets with software developers in India, intending to create a commercial product for sale to government agencies. One of the compromised databases contained personally identifiable information (PII) of 200,000 federal employees from the DHS-OIG and USPS-OIG. When Venkata learned of the investigation, he attempted to delete incriminating evidence, obstructing the inquiry.
The fate of the Indian developers involved remains uncertain, and it’s unclear if U.S. law enforcement will pursue legal action against them to safeguard the stolen data. The incident highlights the challenges of international cooperation in addressing cybercrime and the potential risks associated with the exposure of sensitive government data. Despite the convictions of the former DHS employees, concerns persist about the security of the compromised information and the broader implications for data protection and privacy.
- Former Federal Employees Sentenced for Conspiracy to Steal Proprietary U.S. Government Software and Databases