A former acting inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security pleaded guilty to charges connected to allegations that he stole proprietary government software and databases with personally identifiable information of federal employees.
Charles Edwards pleaded guilty to charges on conspiracy to commit theft of government property and theft of government property, the Justice Department said in a release Friday. Edwards worked for the DHS IG from 2008 through 2013, including as acting inspector general from 2011 through 2013. He had also previously worked for the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General.
After leaving the government, Edwards founded Delta Business Solutions Inc., in Maryland. Prosecutors allege that from “at least 2015 until 2017, he stole software from DHS-OIG, along with sensitive government databases containing personal identifying information of DHS and USPS employees, 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 news release.
Edwards was indicted on the charges in 2020 alongside a former co-worker, Murali Venkata. In that indictment, prosecutors alleged Edwards “leverage[d] his relationship with Venkata and other DHS-OIG employees to steal the software and the sensitive government databases,” according to the Justice Department.
The indictment alleged Edwards intended to sell “an enhanced version of DHS-OIG’s software” to the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Agriculture.
Venkata pleaded not guilty to the charges and his case is still pending, according to the latest update from the Justice Department.
Edwards resigned as acting inspector general in December 2013 amid a Senate investigation into dozens of complaints about his misconduct. He was later placed on administrative leave after a Senate subcommittee report found he “jeopardized the independence” of the IG office.
The report said Edwards altered or delayed reports to accommodate senior DHS officials and failed to recuse himself from audits that had conflicts of interest related to his wife, who was also employed by the agency. It also substantiated allegations that Edwards abused agency resources by having an employee work on his PhD dissertation