RIVERHEAD, N.Y. — A supervisor of information technology for a New York county is accused of mining cryptocurrency from government offices, costing the county government at least $6,000 in electricity bills, prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, Christopher Naples, 42, of Mattituck, hid 46 specialized devices used to mine Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in six rooms in the Suffolk County Center in Riverhead, The New York Times reported. Naples worked in the county clerk’s office as an assistant manager of information technology operations, the newspaper reported.
Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said Naples is charged with counts including public corruption, grand larceny, and computer trespass, according to The Associated Press.
Naples, who has worked for Suffolk County since 2000, appeared in court on Wednesday and was released on his own recognizance. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment, according to the AP and the Times.
If convicted of the top charge, Naples could face up to 15 years in prison, the Times reported.
“Mining 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 “found a way to do it; unfortunately, it was on the backs of taxpayers,” Sini said.
Mining cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, is a complicated process that is at the heart of the difference between cryptocurrencies and traditional currencies, the Times reported.
While traditional currencies are backed by the government, the value of cryptocurrencies is guaranteed by their network of users, according to the newspaper.
The process of mining cryptocurrency requires a large amount of electricity to power the necessary devices, the Times reported. The newspaper noted earlier this month that the amount of electricity used on creating Bitcoin each year exceeds the amount used by Finland.
Prosecutors said that at least 10 of Naples’ machines had been running since February, costing Suffolk County more than $6,000, according to the Times. Sini said that amount could be much more since 36 other machines had been discovered, the newspaper reported.
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