NEW YORK — A New York City police detective who lives in Bronxville has admitted to paying hackers thousands of dollars to break into email and cellphone accounts of his ex-girlfriend, fellow colleagues and others, officials said.
Edwin Vargas pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to computer hacking and conspiring to commit computer hacking, misdemeanors.
Vargas paid more than $4,000 to an email hacking service to illegally obtain the username and password of one cellphone and at least 43 personal email accounts belonging to at least 30 different people — including 20 current or former police officers and a departmental administrative employee, officials said. He also used his detective credentials to pull information from the National Crime Information Center on at least two police officers, passing the data to hackers, officials said.
The detective had a “difficult” relationship with his ex-girlfriend who also worked in the NYPD and “let his suspicions get the best of him,” said his lawyer, Peter Brill. An internal police investigation was referred to the FBI and Vargas was arrested at his home in May.
He had faced felony charges but, as part of the plea agreement, admitted to the misdemeanor charges, which carry a maximum sentence of one year in prison on each count. Had he been convicted of a felony, Vargas automatically would have been forced out of his job.