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Former acting DHS inspector general pleads guilty to scheme to defraud U.S. government

Former acting DHS inspector general pleads guilty to fraud
Former acting Homeland Security Inspector General Charles Edwards has pleaded guilty to theft of proprietary software, containing personal information, in scheme to defraud U.S. government. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 15 (UPI) — A former acting inspector general for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has pleaded guilty to stealing government software in a scheme to defraud the U.S. government, the Justice Department announced.

Charles Edwards, 61, of Sandy Spring, Md., who worked as acting inspector general under the Obama administration, was accused of stealing government software from his former office, so his company, Delta Business Solutions, could sell a case management system to government agencies, according to court documents, cited by the Justice Department on Friday

The theft occurred between 2015 until 2017, according to a department release.

Edwards pleaded guilty Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to federal charges stemming from the scheme, including conspiracy to commit theft of government property and theft of government property, and he will be sentenced at a later date, the DOJ said in the statement.

Prior to working for DHS-OIG from 2008 to 2013, Edwards had worked for the U.S. Postal Service-OIG, which gave him access to both agencies software systems, including “personally identifying information of DHS and USPS employees,” the Justice Department noted.

“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,” Edwards’ attorney, Courtney Forrest, said in a statement to The Hill. “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.”

A second defendant in the case, Murali Venkata, 56, of Aldie, Va., has pleaded not guilty and his case is pending.

Edwards resigned as acting inspector general in December 2013 amid allegations of misuse of office.

Among the allegations related to misuse of office, whistleblowers accused him of violating anti-nepotism law by employing his wife and retaliating against employees who resisted misconduct, The Hill previously reported.

“I will defend myself against these personal attacks,” Edwards told The Hill at the time.

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