IT Supervisor Charged in Digital Currency Mining Scheme

A county worker secretly installed dozens of devices and racked up thousands in electricity bills.

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RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (AP) β€” An employee cost a New York county at least $6,000 in electricity bills by allegedly secretly installing dozens of machines at his workplace in a cryptocurrency scheme, authorities said Wednesday, announcing charges against him.

Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said Christopher Naples, who worked in the county clerk's office as a supervisor of information technology operations, is charged with counts including public corruption, grand larceny, and computer trespass.

An email seeking comment was sent to Naples' attorney. He appeared in court on Wednesday and was released on his own recognizance.

Sini said Naples, 42, who has worked for the county since 2000, had put 46 devices throughout the county center in Riverhead, New York, in locations like an unused electrical wall panel or underneath floorboards. At least some of the devices had been in place since February.

Naples, of Mattituck, New York, is accused of using the devices to mine Bitcoin and other types of cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency units are created by computers solving complex math equations, and the process can result in heavy electricity usage and high cooling costs.

β€œMining cryptocurrency requires an enormous amount of resources, and miners have to navigate how to cover all of those electricity and cooling costs,” Sini said in a statement announcing the arrest. Naples β€œfound a way to do it; unfortunately, it was on the backs of taxpayers."

Naples faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count against him.

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