Former DHS official found guilty of stealing government data and software to create commercial version

Written by Dave Nyczepir

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

Murali Y. Venkata, 56, of Aldie, Va., was the acting branch chief for the computer division of the DHS Inspector General’s office when he conspired with two other people in his office to steal government software to create their own to resell to agencies, according to the Justice Department.

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

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

The prosecution argued that Venkata helped Edwards set up three computer servers at Edwards’ home so that Indian developers could access them remotely and use the stolen source code and data to design a commercial case management system.

While at DHS OIG and before that, US 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 the Civil Rights Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.