A 42-year-old NYPD detective admitted in Federal Court Friday to paying hackers $4,000 to break into the email accounts of police colleagues and others to spy on them, according to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Between April 2010 and October 2012, Edwin Vargas of Bronxville, who worked out of a Bronx precinct, paid hackers to access more than 40 email accounts and one cell phone belonging to total of at least 30 people, including an ex-girlfriend who works for the police force. Twenty of the people whose accounts were hacked are current or former NYPD officers.
“Detective Edwin Vargas broke the law, instead of upholding it as he swore to do,” said Bharara in a statement. “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.”
Authorities arrested Vargas in May in Bronxville.
Vargas 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 U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel on March 14, 2014, at 2:00 p.m.