“Jealousy is a strange transformer of characters.” – Arthur Conan Doyle
Prosecutors didn’t suggest a motive for a New York City Detective being charged with Cyber-crimes but Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and various other police sources said that it was done in order for him to grasp who was communicating with his ex-girlfriend. “I know that the allegations have to do with the fact that he went to a company to be able to hack into information that may have been related to a relationship he had with a young woman and I believe the mother of his child,” said Kelly.
Edwin Vargas, 42, a Detective from the Bronx and 20-year veteran of the New York City Police Department was arrested late last month for allegedly hacking into some of his colleague’s email accounts.
According to NBC New York, Vargas believed that his ex-girlfriend, also a police officer was having a relationship with a workmate and hacked into other officer’s email accounts to see if there was any incriminating information for his concerns therein. He is also accused of performing at least two illegal searches in the FBI’s database; the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), without consent.
By way of tapping into the NCIC database he apparently gained further information dealing with two police officers whose email addresses he had previously obtained through the results of the email hacking.
According to the complaint, it is charged that he paid an independent unspecified email hacking service based in Los Angeles, CA in excess of $4000 in exchange for passwords to his fellow officers email boxes. Another allegation charges that he scrutinized another cop’s cell phone records so he could see who that officer was receiving text message from.
An investigation of the “hacking” service showed that some NYPD employees’ email boxes had been compromised and it was that evidence that led back to Vargas. The Internal Affairs Division (IAD) first began questioning him in early April about cyber-stalking his ex-girlfriend. The investigation became a joint effort between the IAD and the FBI due to the assertions of the federal agency’s database being hacked.
The results of the investigation demonstrated that he snooped on more than 40 mailboxes, 21 of them maintained by those with NYPD affiliations. The activity took place over more than a 2-year period between 2010 and 2012.
Detective Vargas is now charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking and one count of computer hacking to be tried in federal court. Each of the charges carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos was quoted as remarking.” Of all places, the police department is not a workplace where one should have to be concerned about an unscrupulous fellow employee.”
To read related federal cases concerning these types of allegations demonstrating the penalties for these charges, click here (FBI Press Release, March 06, 2012)
The penalties for Computer hacking and/or conspiracy to commit computer hacking can be very severe. If you, or a family member or friend is accused of these crimes it is imperative that you retain an expert defense attorney with comprehensive understanding in this field of criminal law.
Mr. Cohen is a board certified criminal trial lawyer who has tried a multitude of computer related cases of this type throughout his 35 year career. To read about Mr. Cohen honors and qualifications and find out what steps you should take if an investigation has initiated or an arrest has been made, please click here.
Mr. Cohen is also listed in the 2014 edition of “Best Lawyers in America”