On Tuesday, the FBI arrested Edwin Vargas, a detective with the New York City Police Department (NYPD), for allegedly hiring hackers to invade the privacy of other detectives for personal reasons.
Vargas, according to a complaint that was unsealed in Manhattan, paid an email hacking service to target select accounts between March 2011 and October 2012. Sources familiar with the investigation have said that Vargas was looking for information on an ex-girlfriend who had recently started a new relationship with another officer. The Ex, who is also an employee of the NYPD, is the mother of Vargas’ child.
In total, Vargas purchased at least 43 personal e-mail accounts and one cellular phone belonging to at least 30 different individuals, including 21 who are affiliated with the NYPD; of those 21, 19 are current NYPD officers, one is a retired NYPD officer, and one is on the NYPD’s administrative staff. It’s said he paid a total of more than $4,000 to the hacking service for his access. Further, Vargas is also alleged to have used his access as a detective to lookup records on two NYPD officers in the NCIC database.
“When law enforcement officers break the laws they are sworn to uphold, they do a disservice to their fellow officers, to the department, and to the public they serve, and it will not be tolerated,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Adding to that, FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos commented that the police department is not a workplace where one should have to be concerned about an “unscrupulous fellow employee.”
Vargas is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking and one count of computer hacking. Each count carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
After his initial appearance on Tuesday, he posted bond in the amount of $50,000, and agreed to travel restrictions and other provisions including having his home computer and cellphone monitored. A preliminary hearing has been set for June 20, 2013.