NEW YORK CITY — An NYPD detective was arrested Tuesday morning for hacking dozens of email accounts, including those of several police officers, federal authorities said.
Edwin Vargas, 42, allegedly gained access to at least 43 email accounts and one cellphone after paying more than $4,000 to email-hacking services between March 2011 and October 2012, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI.
Vargas, a Bronx detective who was arrested outside his Bronxville home, hacked into accounts belonging to at least 30 people, authorities said. Twenty-one of the victims, who were not identified, were associated with the NYPD, including 19 current officers, one retired cop and one member of the department’s administrative staff, authorities said.
Vargas was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking and one count of computer hacking, each carrying a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
He was scheduled to appear in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, before Judge Sarah Netburn.
The New York Post reported Vargas was impelled to spy on his colleagues' accounts because he believed someone was sleeping with his ex-girlfriend, an NYPD officer with whom he has a young child.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara also accused Vargas of accessing the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database to gain information about at least two NYPD cops without permission, according to the press release.
The investigation, which included an examination of Vargas’ NYPD computer hard drive, revealed at least 20 email addresses as well as telephone numbers, home addresses and vehicle information logs associated with the email accounts in the contacts section of his Gmail account, according to the press release.
“As alleged, Detective Edwin Vargas paid thousands of dollars for the ability to illegally invade the privacy of his fellow officers and others. He is also alleged to have illegally obtained information about two officers from a federal database to which he had access based on his status as an NYPD detective,” Bharara said in a press release, announcing the arrest along with George Venizelos, the city’s FBI assistant director-in-charge.
“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,” Bharara said.