Former DHS official convicted of stealing government data, software to create commercial version

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A jury convicted a former Department of Homeland Security official Monday of stealing proprietary source code and sensitive databases, containing the personally identifiable information of hundreds of thousands of federal employees, in an effort to develop a commercial case management system.

Murali Y. Venkata, 56, of Aldie, Virginia, was the DHS Office of Inspector General‘s IT Division acting branch chief when he conspired with two other people in his office to steal government software to create their own to sell back to agencies, according to the Department of Justice.

Venkata’s co-conspirators Charles K. Edwards, the former acting inspector general of DHS OIG, and Sonal Patel, another official in the office, pleaded guilty to theft in January 2022 and April 2019 respectively.

Venkata was further convicted of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and obstruction, charges that forced him to take administrative leave in October 2017 after joining DHS in June 2010.

The prosecution argued Venkata assisted Edwards setting up three computer servers in the latter’s home so developers in India could access them remotely and use the stolen source code and data to design a commercial case management system.

In his time at DHS OIG and, before that, the U.S. Postal Service OIG Venkata had access to software systems — one for case management and others for holding personally identifiable information.

The case was prosecuted by senior attorneys from the DOJ and from the Civil Rights Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

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Case management, Department of Justice (DOJ), DHS Office of Inspector General, personally identifiable information, United States Postal Service (USPS)