What just happened? In what appears to be a case of someone abusing their position, a former chief information security officer has been sentenced to two years in prison after ordering expensive networking equipment for the county government and selling it on eBay.

Terry Shawn Petrill, 48, of Myrtle Beach was the IT Security Director for Horry County in South Carolina, where he worked for more than 12 years. According to court documents, he ordered forty-one Cisco 3850 switches between June 11, 2015, and August 23, 2018, that were supposed to be installed on the Horry County network.

Once the switches arrived and Petrill accepted the deliveries, he told other IT staff members that he would take care of installation himself. But instead of adding the devices to the network, he sold them to third parties and kept the money.

Network switches aren’t cheap, with some Cisco brands priced over $20,000. Agents say that Petrill auctioned nine of them off on eBay and other websites, but don’t know what happened to the rest.

One of Cisco's 3850 switches from the company's website

Petrill’s actions weren’t discovered until an inventory audit in December 2018, a month after he left the government. An FBI investigation led back to the former IT Security Director, who pleaded guilty to stealing the 41 switches back in November 2019. The crime cost Horry County government $345,266, which Petrill must repay.

Petrill this week was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison, followed by three years of court-ordered supervision.

“Those who steal from our local governments are raiding the South Carolina taxpayers,” said US Attorney Peter McCoy Jr. “This is unacceptable, and as this case shows we will seek prison time and restitution against those who engage in such theft. I appreciate the dedicated work of our law enforcement partners and government officials in Horry County who provided critical assistance in this case.”

Main image credit: Anucha Cheechang