Two Sentenced For Stealing Government Databases
India-West Staff Reporter
WASHINGTON, DC – Three former federal employees were sentenced today for their roles in a conspiracy to steal proprietary software and sensitive law-enforcement databases from the U.S. government for use in a commercial venture.
Sonal Patel, 49, of Sterling, VA, had been employed in DHS-OIG’s information technology department. Patel was sentenced to two years’ probation with one year of home incarceration, and a fine of $40,000. In April 2019, Patel pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft of government property.
Murali Y. Venkata, 58, of Aldie, VA, is a former Acting Branch Chief of the Information Technology Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS-OIG). Venkata was convicted in 2023, for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, theft of government property, wire fraud, and obstruction. He was sentenced to four months and is to serve two years of supervised release with eight months of home incarceration, as well as 60 hours of community service.
Charles K. Edwards, 63, of Sandy Spring, MD, was the Acting Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG).
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Venkata, Edwards, and Patel conspired to steal proprietary U.S. software and databases containing sensitive law-enforcement information and the personally identifying information of over 200,000 federal employees from DHS-OIG and USPS OIG. They planned to use the stolen software and databases to create a commercial software product to be offered for sale to government agencies.
As part of the scheme, the co-conspirators disclosed the stolen software and databases containing PII to software developers located in India.
After Venkata learned of the investigation, he deleted incriminating text messages and other communications to obstruct the investigation’s-OIG and USPS OIG investigated the case.