A 42-year-old Suffolk County IT supervisor, Christopher Naples has been charged with several offences for mining Bitcoin in the government office.

Christopher Naples was an assistant manager of information technology operations with Suffolk County in Riverhead, New York. His charges include police corruption, grand larceny, computer trespassing and official misconduct. If he gets convicted he can face a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail.

He used at least 50 specialized devices to mine the cryptocurrency which resulted in consuming thousands of dollars of stolen electricity. The devices were hidden in at least 6 rooms in the government office, underneath floorboards and inside an unused electricity panel.

Illegal mining has cost the county government at least $6,000 in electricity bills. Timothy Di Sini, the Suffolk County District Attorney on Wednesday said,

We are talking about an enormous amount of energy, it is a highly technical case that involved an unusual level of expertise from investigators.

Mining Bitcoin requires an enormous amount of electricity to power the mining equipment. In a recent study, The New York Times found that the electricity spent on mining Bitcoin annually exceeds the electricity used by the Nation of Finland every year. Mr Sini further said,

Mr Naples had admitted that the devices belong to him and that he had been operating them for at least several months before the district attorney’s office was alerted.

At a news conference, he added: “It’s all math that human beings cannot do”.

Mr Naples’s machines have been running since February 2021, Prosecutor said. Mr Sini also added, given that 36 more machines had been discovered, it is likely that Mr Naples had caused the county thousands more.

As a result of illegal mining in the office, other County employees complained of the poor performance of internet service and air conditioning. The county also called workers to fix the air conditioning several times. The temperature of the rooms where the devices were installed dropped 20° shortly after they were disabled.

Mr Sini pointed out “not only do we have thousands of dollars of taxpayer money funding this operation, but it also put the county’s infrastructure and taxpayers money at risk”.

Some officials have often pointed out the relationship between cryptocurrencies and the criminal enterprise is growing. Researchers fear that Bitcoin can also be used for illicit finance and the technology has become a concern for state and federal.

But this is not the first time that a government employee has stolen power and resources to mine cryptocurrencies. There had been several cases similar to this dating back to 2013 and 2014.

In a press briefing, Srini said, “We will not tolerate County employees who are already on the public payroll to steal taxpayer money and illegally use government resources for their personal gains”. A federal reserve employee, Nicholas Berthaume also tried to mine cryptocurrency using state-funded resources, was fined $5,000 and spent 12 months on probation.


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