A Mattituck man has been accused of improperly using the computer network to mine cryptocurrency at the Suffolk County Clerk’s office, where he worked as an information technology supervisor, costing the county thousands of dollars in electricity bills over the past seven months.
Christopher Naples, who has worked for the county since 2000, was charged Wednesday with felony counts of grand larceny and computer tresspass, and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct at Southampton Town Justice Court.
“Mining cryptocurrency requires an enormous amount of resources, and miners have to navigate how to cover all of those electricity and cooling costs,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said. “This defendant found a way to do it. Unfortunately, it was on the backs of taxpayers.”
Prosecutors said the 42-year-old man allegedly utilized county electricity, internet access, and other resources to run a mining operation for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency out of the County Center in Riverhead between February 9 and August 19.
When authorities executed a search warrant at the clerk’s office last month, they found 46 cryptocurrency mining devices hidden in six rooms, including underneath removable floorboards, on top of or inside server racks, and inside an unused electrical wall panel, according to investigators.
“One of these rooms housed critically important computer servers, secure data storage systems and communications equipment for the entire county government, and when investigators entered the room, an alarm was going off that indicated the temperature was too high,” Sini added. “Within hours of the devices being shut down, the temperature in the room dropped 20 degrees. So not only was this operation being paid for with thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, but it also put the county’s infrastructure at risk.”
The county’s cost of running the machines was more than $6,000, according to an audit of the building’s energy bills, although the probe is continuing. The devices are estimated to cost approximately $4,200 per month each in electricity, based on the minimum kilowatts required for their operation and the average cost per kilowatt hour in Suffolk, according to prosecutors.
Detectives are still investigating the amount and nature of any proceeds from Naples’ alleged cryptocurrency mining operation. Naples’ attorney, William Kehon, was not immediately available for comment.
Justice Barbara Wilson released Naples without bail. He faces up to 15 years in prison, if convicted of the top count. He is due back in court on September 16.