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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Police Detective Pleads Guilty to Computer Hacking

The 20-year veteran law enforcement officer snooped on his own co-workers, hacked into numerous email accounts, and improperly accessed federal databases to obtain information. It was reported that 43 personal emails accounts, and as many as 30 individuals- 21 being officers- were involved. 
Edwin Vargas, a Bronx, New York NYPD detective pled guilty to conspiracy to commit computer hacking and unauthorized access of a law-enforcement database


U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York (212-637-2600)
November 8, 2013

NYPD Detective Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to Computer Hacking 

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “Detective Edwin Vargas broke the law, instead of upholding it as he swore to do. He accessed a law enforcement database without authorization and paid hackers to illegally obtain e-mail login information for his fellow officers and others. Vargas’s guilty plea today and his forthcoming punishment make clear that those who illegally invade others’ privacy, including members of law enforcement, will not escape prosecution. ”Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that Edwin Vargas, a detective with the New York City Police Department (NYPD), pled guilty to computer hacking crimes. Specifically, Vargas paid others to hack into e-mail accounts, including e-mail accounts belonging to other NYPD officers and employees, and also accessed a federal law enforcement database without authorization to obtain information about other NYPD officers. Vargas was arrested in Bronxville, New York, in May 2013. He pled guilty before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel.
According to the complaint and information filed against Vargas in Manhattan federal court and statements made in related court proceedings:

Between April 2010 and October 2012, Vargas, an NYPD detective assigned to a precinct in the Bronx, hired e-mail hacking services to hack into various e-mail accounts so he could obtain log-in credentials, such as the password and username, for those accounts. In total, Vargas purchased hacks of at least 43 personal e-mail accounts and one cellular phone belonging to at least 30 different individuals, including 20 current or former NYPD officers and an NYPD administrative employee. After receiving the log-in credentials he had purchased from the e-mail hacking services, Vargas accessed at least one personal e-mail account belonging to an NYPD officer. Vargas paid a total of more than $4,000 to entities associated with the e-mail hacking services.

Vargas also admitted to accessing the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, a federal database, to obtain information about at least two NYPD officers without authorization to do so. The e-mail accounts of those two officers were among the e-mail accounts Vargas paid the e-mail hacking services to hack into so he could obtain log-in credentials.
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Vargas, 42, of Bronxville, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiring to commit computer hacking and one count of computer hacking. Each count carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Castel on March 14, 2014, at 2:00 p.m.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI and thanked the Internal Affairs Bureau of the New York City Police Department for its cooperation and assistance in the investigation. The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Rosemary Nidiry is in charge of the prosecution.

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