Insider Signal - 2022.3
This month's issue features: a crooked cop, a thieving ex-Qualcomm engineer, Russian news protest, a tampered salad and more
Drug Task Force Head Charged With Pilfering Cash Seized From Drug Dealers
A Pennsylvania grand jury issued a presentment alleging that John Burkhart, the former head of the Lancaster County (Pa.) Drug Task Force, for over five years, systematically stole more than $200,000 in cash seized from drug dealers. Burkhart purportedly accessed funds confiscated from drug dealers via civil forfeiture.
Burkhart was fired for falsifying a search warrant, which eventually led others to suspect him of theft of seized drug money
The case originated from an investigation by a Lancaster newspaper into irregularities involving the use of seized funds
The reporting prompted a grand jury to investigate further
The grand jury’s report revealed that the drug task force office stored cash in envelopes in an evidence safe
Only two detectives knew the combination, but only one regularly accessed the safe
No log was kept of who accessed the safe or when
No security cameras monitored the safe
The drug task force was located away from other police facilities, escaping oversight and operating with carte blanche
Burkhart evidenced the motives of an insider: several witnesses testified that he often complained about being in debt and in dire financial circumstances
Sources & Additional Information
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Ex-Qualcomm Engineer Downloaded Valuable IP Upon Departure
Chipmaker Qualcomm has sued a former engineer, Guarav Kathuria, to bar him from using trade secrets he allegedly stole before resigning from the company. According to the complaint, Kathuria stole confidential information, including confidential documents, processes, schematics, and diagrams of Qualcomm chips and software, which he intended to use at his next employer, a competitor of Qualcomm.
Qualcomm had an insider threat program in place, and it appeared to have succeeded in catching Kathuria uploading company files
Qualcomm security discovered that Kathuria had sent a zip file containing proprietary information about Qualcomm chipsets to a personal email account
When confronted, he allegedly acknowledged what he had done, admitted it was wrong, and claimed to have deleted the files
Sources & Additional Information
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Russian News Protest Sparks Insider Threat Concerns
On March 14, Russia Channel One TV editor Marina Ovsyannikova appeared behind the host on a live news broadcast holding a poster reading NO WAR in Russian. An apparent protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the poster also read, in Russian, “Stop the War. Don’t Believe Propaganda. They are Lying to You.” A line at the bottom in English said, “Russians against war.” Ovyannikova also shouted, “Stop the war. No to war.” She has been fined 30,000 rubles for calling for unsanctioned protests.
Ovyannikova could be seen and heard for several seconds before the station switched to another report.
She says she was questioned for 14 hours by investigators
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Ovyannikova in a video address
Channel One, which echoes Moscow’s party line, is a main source of news for millions of Russians
Although this case, to many represents freedom of expression and moral responsibility, it raises insider threat concerns
Sources & Additional Information
Red Robin Diner Claims Employee Put Semen on Salad
A customer referred to as C.T. has filed a lawsuit against Red Robin, claiming that an employee adulterated his salad with semen. C.T. alleges that the restaurant in Clackamas, Oregon, retaliated against him for pointing out that while his party of 8 customers—most of whom were black—had to be split among two tables, several large parties of white customers were allowed to sit together.
The lawsuit alleges that C.T. asked why his group was being treated differently than other large groups, though he consented to split his group
C.T. said he ate a garden salad and later became aware that it contained semen, noticing the funny taste
He said he discovered a pool of semen under the greens, complained to the management, started feeling sick, and vomited
C.T. then went to the hospital for nausea and a panic attack, according to the complaint
C.T. had the rest of the salad package to go; lab tests confirmed the presence of semen that was not C.T.’s
C.T. is asking for $1 million in damages for sexual abuse, negligence, and racial discrimination
Sources & Additional Information
More Insider Threat Stories - March 2022
Co-Worker Rapes Woman on Hotel Service Staff
Police in the Humayunpur area of southwest Delhi, India, have arrested a male employee on charges of raping a 21-year-old female member of the hotel service staff as she was exiting a restaurant restroom. The culprit, identified only as Sanjay, allegedly attacked his victim at 1:30 am. The two had reportedly known each other for about a year.
Auto Union Official Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement
Timothy Edmunds, 54, has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $2.4 million while working at a suburban Detroit branch of the United Auto Workers. As secretary-treasurer of UAW Local 412 from 2011 to 2021, Edmunds plundered the branch’s coffers by using its credit cards for personal purchases, cashing union checks for personal use, and transferring union funds to personal accounts. His earnings went to gambling, child-support payments, and the acquisition of guns and cars.
NYC Parks Worker Charged With Attacking Colleague
Police have arrested Darryl Brown, 46, a staff member at New York City Parks, after he attacked a coworker near the Long Island City waterfront. Brown allegedly got into an argument with the unidentified coworker, then punched him in the face. He then stabbed his victim with a sharp object that caused puncture wounds to the arm, stomach, and hand and a deep laceration on one finger.
Protesters Pummel Kroger After Staff Allegedly Cause Employee’s Suicide
A year after Evan Seyfried took his own life, protesters around the country have targeted Kroger, demanding that the grocery chain take responsibility for Seyfried’s death. Seyfried was allegedly the target of unrelenting abuse by his coworkers at the Milford, Ohio, Kroger’s store—stemming from his insistence upon wearing a mask during the Covid pandemic--which led to his suicide. A wrongful death suit filed by Seyfried’s family alleges that the Milford store’s manager carried out a “campaign dedicated to ousting Evan while proclaiming her intention to make Evan’s life a ‘living hell.” Among the alleged incidents of harassment: sending him threatening text messages and child pornography.
Bank Employee Embezzles From Customer Accounts
Itzela Arlete Vega, 23, has been indicted for embezzling more than $88,000 from various account holders at IBC Bank for three months in 2021. Vega, who worked at a branch in McAllen, Texas, allegedly used the money to buy purses, shoes, makeup, and clothing. Her scheme involved changing the addresses of several customer accounts, including the account of a recently deceased customer, and using debit cards to make purchases and ATM withdrawals.
The Laugh’s on Minnehaha Director Who Embezzled Funds
Duane Buthe, 41, a former Minnehaha County highway superintendent and Brookings public works director, has pleaded guilty to embezzling about $127,000 from the county and the South Dakota Association of County Highway Superintendents. Buthe admitted to making retail transactions, cash withdrawals, and other misappropriations from the association’s account.
Estonian Minister In Hot Water for Coffee Machine Incident
Mailis Reps, former minister of education and research for Estonia, has been charged with embezzlement and fraud for taking home a Jura coffee machine from the office. According to Marin Terep, Reps’ former adviser, Reps told Terep to collect the machine and take it to her driver, who would bring it to Reps’ home. Reps is also accused of having staff perform tasks related to her children, using the ministry’s fuel card for personal purchases, and charging her birthday party expenses to the ministry.
Tax Collector Caught Trying to Dash with Trash Cash Stash
Former Rankin County (Mississippi) deputy tax director Tiffany Loftin has been arrested for stealing money after video footage showed her stuffing bills into her pants. She has been accused of embezzling nearly $6,000 of county trash collection fees paid for by residents with cash.
Post Office Manager Seized, Then Sold, Cocaine
Shawn Herron, 47, who managed a Fall River, Mass., post office, received 18 months in prison for seizing a brick of cocaine and other drugs from the mails and selling them for profit. Herron admitted to intercepting parcels from Puerto Rico and U.S. west coast states suspected of containing drugs. He told employees he was seizing the packages for investigation by postal inspectors.
Staff Negligence Traps Octogenarian in Safe Deposit Vault
Staff at Union Bank of India’s Jubilee Hills branch accidentally trapped 89-year-old V. Krishna Reddy in the bank’s locker room, or safe deposit area, for 18 hours. When they locked the branch for the day, they failed to notice Reddy was still in the locker room. Concerned relatives went to the police, who found him by checking CCTV footage in Jubilee Hills.