Three former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees were sentenced to prison for stealing proprietary U.S. government software and databases containing the personal data of 200,000 federal employees.
The three individuals are Charles K. Edwards, a former Acting Inspector General of the DHS Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG), sentenced to 1.5 years in prison; Sonal Patel, a member of the department IT staff, sentenced to 2 years of probation; and Murali Y. Venkata, also from the IT department, sentenced to 4 months in prison.
The three pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft of government property and to defraud the United States and theft of government property at various times between 2019 and 2022.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice announcement, the three were previously employed at the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, where they conspired to steal proprietary U.S. software and databases.
The three men shared the stolen assets with India-based software developers to develop a similar commercial product to sell to government agencies.
One of the databases that was exposed to the Indian contractors contained personally identifiable information (PII) on 200,000 federal employees of the DHS-OIG and USPS-OIG.
When Venkata learned about the investigation, the employee attempted to delete incriminating evidence, such as communication with the Indian developers, which constituted an act to obstruct the investigation.
It remains unclear if the U.S. law enforcement authorities will pursue the Indian developers involved in the case to secure the data and prevent its further dissemination.
However, given the time that has elapsed since the acts, any measures may be deemed futile at this point.